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article imageCracks showing in the AOL-Huffington Post relationship

By Michael Krebs     May 26, 2011 in Business
It was an acquisition that some in New York's media circles predicted would signal the beginning of the end of the Huffington Post, and reports are now circulating from staff members that it is getting ugly on the inside.
With, as Reuters reported, a notable lawsuit against the Huffington Post on ownership ideas behind the origins of the site being kept alive, and rumors circulating of deep discontent within the company's ranks, notable cracks are emerging between the cultures of AOL and Huffington Post.
AOL purchased Huffington Post for $315 million in February. The deal was billed as an opportunity for AOL to reach deeper into editorial content and for Huffington Post to enjoy wider-ranging resources. But with the honeymoon coming to an end, key staffers are departing, and those left behind are sharing stories of a desperate AOL and "awful" scenarios within the company.
"Huffington and [chairman and Huffington Post co-founder Kenneth] Lerer breached their obligations to [political consultants] Peter [Daou] and James [Boyce], excluded them from the venture, and claimed credit for the ideas and contributions to the site that Peter and James had given them," posits the lawsuit against AOL Huffington Post Media Group, as the new entity is known.
But the internal issues may prove to be larger than the external ones.
"Since AOL purchased the Huffington Post from Arianna Huffington in February for $315 million most of the subsequent coverage has focused on the widespread layoffs of AOL employees; the hiring of experienced reporters (many of whom are notably from the NYT, but more on that later); and Arianna's verbal tete-a-tetes with NYT managing editor Bill Keller," Glynnis MacNicol reported for the Business Insider on Wednesday.
The atmosphere in the AOL Huffington Post Media Group has been described as "awful" and "brutal" and "the worst few weeks," according to MacNicol.
Huffington Post's long-term jabs at the New York Times appear to have also spilled into their internal staff interactions.
"Given that HuffPo has hired journalists from a number of major traditional media outlets, it does seem odd that the complaints only mention the New York Times. (What, does Howard Fineman not even rate a cubicle?) You can also see that journalists used to a certain degree of respect and deference wouldn’t have joined HuffPo to relive their cub reporter pasts," Erik Sherman reported in BNET on Thursday.
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