My Go To Websites

There are a half dozen websites I visit every day–often multiple times a day.

Huffington-Post-Logo1Huffington Post– My go-to news source. I’m not proud to say that.

HuffPo represents so much that’s wrong with journalism. There are click bait headlines and lots of stories based on other people’s reporting (it’s gotten better with time). Often HuffPo’s treatment of a story instigates me to go elsewhere for details.

The far left column is opinion from bloggers and celebs. I never click there.

The center column is curated&#185 news. Pretty decent lineup. Huffington now has pretty good writing, plus wire service and affiliate access.

The right column is tabloid. There is at least one salacious link to some young hottie “rocking her bikini.” I click those every time. Mission accomplished, Arianna.

Huffington Post has attempted to create an online video channel with live broadcasts through the day. I’ve gone and been quickly bored. Now the main site reuses clips of the broadcasts always attached to buzzfeedish teases.

When I click a HuffPo link and its one of their in-house videos I click away and feel duped! It really ticks me off.

Editorially, HuffPo is left-of-center.

reddit-logoReddit— A sparse website, Reddit isn’t much more than page-after-page of links. Its power is in customization. Reddit is individually configured. My Reddit favors geeky stories connected to my interests.

Reddit uses a system of voting to promote or ditch stories. It seems effective. I’ve seen comments saying the system gets gamed. Not to me.

The front page is constantly turning over. I like that.

ycombinator-logoHacker News— Compared to Hacker News, Reddit looks like Tiger Beat!

This is a current Hacker News headline:

“TurboFan” – Experimental new optimizing compiler for Google’s V8 JS engine (

Hacker News is owned by Y Combinator.

Y Combinator provides seed funding for startups. Seed funding is the earliest stage of venture funding. It pays your expenses while you’re getting started.

There are many people much nerdier than I on this site. Lots of talk of startups and failures.

MediaiteMediaite— This is from Dan Abrams.

From TV green rooms to the corridors of the senate to the latest hashtag revolt, is a trusted source on the intersection of politics and media across the political spectrum.

There’s plenty from CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC and the others to give Mediaite fresh fodder, though there’s not as much updating on the weekend.

Every night Mediaite produces its own copy of Jon Stewart’s first block bit. I see it nearly three hours before I legitimately see Stewart! Why does Comedy Central allow that?

header-12-4-11-01ROMENESKO— This is Jim Romenesko’s blog. A newsie from St. Paul he’s been gossipping journalism for 15 years. It’s inside baseball for sure, but always entertaining and often illuminating.

Most of Romenesko’s daily news comes in the morning. This is another site that gets very quiet on weekends.

Times change. My most read sites today are different from just a few years ago. Gone (to me) are Slashdot, Digg, Drudge and a few others. Awful Announcing, Mashable and Boy Genius Report are on the rise.

I’d like to know your favorites, but please, ONLY ONE PER COMMENT. The automated spam detection software goes after multiple links in comments. Too many and your comment will never see the light of day. Sorry.

&#185 – When did ‘curated’ actually become a word? It works here, but this is a word I never heard until four or five years ago.

It Will Be Cold. The World Will Not End.


Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post

Drudge and Huffington have the same lead. This can’t be good. In breathless prose they build the tension. “Coldest Game in History?” asks Drudge. The cold air will “SMASH RECORDS,” yells HuffPo.

It’s 2014. We have advanced warning. We have central heat. The vast majority of us have appropriate clothes. And, we have shelter for those who need it.

The cold in the Eastern half of the country will be a pain. Few will find it fun. But, with a little preparation, even the folks at Lambeau Field will make it through none the worse.

Respect the cold. You’ll be fine.


Arianna – Why Must You Do This?

I haven’t looked at the underlying code yet, but I assume there’s a timer doing this dirty work. So click, click, click til you’re blue in the face and steam’s coming out of your ears.

I read the Huffington Post online. I like its somewhat left-of-center viewpoint. I don’t like its advertising policies. They represent the worst of the Internet!

The latest ploy from Huffington is pictured at the top of this post. It’s an ad that sits squarely on top of the the content you’re trying to read. In and of itself that would be pretty bad, but there’s more.

Though the ad has a close button with a red “X” clicking it does no good until the ad has been displayed for a while. I haven’t looked at the underlying code yet, but I assume there’s a timer doing this dirty work.

So click, click, click til you’re blue in the face and steam’s coming out of your ears.

Advertising is a tough business. I understand. I work on advertiser supported television.

What I don’t understand is a business model that profits by pissing off readers.

HuffPo, make no mistake, I’m pissed. I can’t be alone.

What’s Huffington Doing To Journalism?

Since Huffington added virtually nothing to this story their original headline/link should have gone directly to the Sun-Times. Instead they “linkjacked.”

I visit Huffington Post on a regular basis, but I am more-and-more convinced the site is bad for journalism. The bigger it gets the worse it is. Though some of HuffPo’s content is their own much is not. In essence Huffington acts like a neighbor running his house off your electric meter. Whatever they get is at the expense of their host!

First an Internet fact of life. Because of the power of Google and other search engines a site’s importance (measured by page rank and other factors) is like money in the bank. Google drives traffic (even on this little blog). If Huffington and I post the same content word-for-word search engines are much more likely to point to Huffington because it is a more linked to and cited source.

In some cases that’s good, but Huffington’s online reputation is often built on using/taking content from those they compete with.

A case in point is a headline from Huffington yesterday, “After Meeting With Execs, Union Leaders Still Opposed to Wal-Mart.” I have strong opinions on Wal-Mart. I am a union member. I clicked the link.

Huffington’s content consisted of one sentence (a quote I think) and a link to the company that paid employees to actually report the story, the Chicago Sun-Times. Huffington’s entry is loaded with keywords to enhance this story in the eyes of search engines. They’re listed following “Read More:.”

Since Huffington added virtually nothing to this story their original headline/link should have gone directly to the Sun-Times. Instead they “linkjacked.” Huffington gets one more page view and, in some cases, probably satisfies the reader’s curiosity with their single sentence therefore cutting the Sun-Times out entirely.

Is this illegal? Probably not. Is this unethical? I don’t know, but it is very troubling because it’s possible Huffington and others like it will suck the Sun-Times of this world dry without replacing their reporting.

Other sites are similar, but I think Huffington’s model is a step beyond… a step worse than Google News or even Drudge.

It’s Time To Turn Down The Incendiary Language

What is wrong is to fire up zealots through incendiary language and vitriol. That can’t be turned off and could easily become a ticking time bomb.

Zealot –noun

1. a person who shows zeal.

2. an excessively zealous person; fanatic.

Zealots are easy to fire up. They are much more difficult to calm down. It looks like the McCain campaign has realized that and, at least John McCain himself, is getting a little uneasy with what’s been unleashed.

Sam Stein/The Huffington Post: McCain was responding to a town hall attendee who claimed he was concerned about raising a child under a president who “cohorts with domestic terrorists such as [Bill] Ayers.” Despite the fact that McCain and his campaign have repeatedly used Ayers to hammer Obama in recent days, the Arizona Senator tried to calm the man.

“[Senator Obama] is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared about as President of the United States,” he said, before adding: “If I didn’t think I would be one heck of a better president I wouldn’t be running.”

The crowd groaned with disapproval.

Later, McCain was again pressed about Obama’s “other-ness” and again he refused to play ball. “I don’t trust Obama,” a woman said. “I have read about him. He’s an Arab.”

“No, ma’am,” McCain said several times, shaking his head in disagreement. “He’s a decent, family man, [a] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

It’s important for this election to be heartily fought–for ideas to be vetted before the voting public. We should know what each candidate stands for. What is wrong is to fire up zealots through incendiary language and vitriol. That can’t be turned off and could easily become a ticking time bomb.

Do I need to go into specifics here for you to know why we need to worry? The language needs to be toned down now. Senator McCain’s answers today are a good start.

What To Make Of It

Both Drudge and The Huffington Post have linked to an op-ed piece in the Financial Times. It’s written by former Bush insider Karl Rove.

It is advice to Barack Obama. It claims to be a game plan for Obama to win the Democratic nomination.

What is this, a Twilight Zone episode?

Why would Rove would do anything to benefit Democrats?

It is widely suggested, Hillary Clinton runs the poorest of all the major Democrats versus a generic Republican candidate. Wouldn’t Senator Clinton be the Republican’s first choice for Democratic nominee?

My first thought was, maybe Rove is trying to torpedo Clinton’s closest rival? However, when you read the suggestions, they make perfect sense from a strategic standpoint. They would help Obama.

Maybe Rove just hates Hillary or the Clintons in general and will accept any choice instead of her?

The whole thing is a real puzzle. I can’t remember anything quite like this before. And the election is still a year away.

Be Careful What You Read

I was just looking at the Huffington Post a few minutes ago. It’s one of many news/opinion sites I go to, spanning the spectrum of political opinion.

When I look at any of these sites, I always have to remember bias. No opinion site can totally divorce itself from its political bent, no matter how hard the editors try.

The headline:

Researchers Link Heat Wave To Global Warming…

Considering most of the nation has just been through a huge heat wave, that’s a pretty interesting link.

I clicked and went to the article, where in the second sentence I read:

While it is impossible to attribute any one weather event to climate change…

That’s the second sentence. I might understand laziness getting in the way of seeing something 10 or 12 paragraphs down, but this is ridiculous. How could that not have been read by the link/headline writer?

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the same kind of thing pulled when the site is skewed in the opposite direction from the political middle.

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, but you just can’t stop with the headline. You can’t.

Who Is Andrew Breitbart And Why Is Matt Drudge Throwing Him All Those Links?

I’m a habitue of Drudge. Though Matt Drudge has a political and sometimes social agenda, the site links to news I find interesting and does it on a fast and constant basis. Drudge is mostly a collector of news rather than a reporter. Just about all his headlines point to stories on other sites.

Until recently, most of Drudge’s stories came from traditional sources. If a story was actually from the Associated Press, he’d find a website carrying it and link there. You’d be directed to a newspaper, TV station, magazine or Yahoo, which carries wire service reports.

Now, he’s started linking to lots of stories on looks like an automated aggregator of AP and Reuters wire stories.

Quite honestly, I’d never heard of it or of Andrew Breitbart, the person whose telephone number is listed as the contact for the web address.

I’m not in Los Angeles, but I used Google’s mapping facility to look at’s physical address. It looks like a residential area just off the San Diego Freeway and near UCLA.

Then I started checking his name. Here’s a quote from Andrew Breitbart on author Roger Simon’s site.

The New York Times got it right — I am amicably leaving the Drudge Report after a long and close working relationship with Matt Drudge, a man who will rightfully take his place in the history books as an Internet news pioneer. I am also excited to be a partner in an inspired new endeavor, the Huffington Post. The last time I worked with Arianna she got a guy who didn’t deserve to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery disinterred. That was cool. I admit: I like to go where the action is.

And, if you go to the Internet Archives and look at some older pages, they actually show Drudge’s site. Well, they all do except this one. Oops.

So, it looks like Breitbart is now somehow connected with Arianna Huffington – liberal and, once again, Matt Drudge – conservative.

Is Drudge is sending all this traffic Breitbart’s way out of the goodness of his heart?

There’s nothing nefarious here (well nothing I can see). If there’s a financial relationship between Breitbart and Drudge, traditional journalists might question the ethical connotations of linking for profit. There’s nothing I’ve looked at that says that’s what’s happening and far be it from me to judge ethics. I just don’t know.

I’m writing what I found because I saw unusual online behavior and put 2+2 together. It’s all out in the open.

For me, it was interesting to see this new website spring up and get much of Drudge’s business. That’s where my curiosity kicked in. If you can aggregate tens or hundreds of thousands of hits… or more, Google ads (or similar ads, sold by others and placed on your site) alone could make a small, automated website very profitable with little investment or ongoing effort.

Blogger’s note: While looking through more websites, trying to read up on Andrew Breitbart, I stumbled on the fact that his father-in-law is Orson Bean. If the name means nothing to you, don’t worry. If you’re my age, Orson Bean was a very witty New Englander who worked the TV game show circuit in the 60s and 70s. I was a big fan. I wondered where he went.