Print, online media can co-exist

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Print or online.

Ginger or Mary Ann.

Print and online journalists need to stop worrying about which form of media will prevail, much like the public needs to stop worrying about which “Gilligan’s Island” character was hotter-Mary Ann or Ginger-Arianna Huffington said.

“It’s 2007. Let’s have a threesome,” Huffington said. “Let’s have both Ginger and Mary Ann.”

Huffington, who is a nationally syndicated columnist and the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, one of the most linked-to news and opinion websites, spoke about print, online and alternative journalism in Salt Lake City on Saturday as part of the McCarthey family lecture series.

Huffington, who was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people last year, said her teenage daughters get most of their information online and overlook television to watch “Desperate Housewives” on their laptops. When it came time to apply for a journalism internship, however, Huffington said they applied to Vanity Fair, and not the “online internships their mother gave” them, she said.

“There’s something in our DNA that still wants both (online and print media),” Huffington said.

John Saltas, president of Salt Lake City Weekly, agreed.

“We’re not worried (about declining circulation) because there are always going to be people reading print at coffee shops,” Saltas said.

Instead, the media needs to worry about their coverage, Huffington said.

She accused the mainstream media of suffering from attention deficit disorder and picking up “shiny, bubbly” news that entertains the public.

As an example, Huffington used Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who drew the media’s attention in 2000 and was covered in countless stories but is rarely written about today.

“Elian made three covers of Time magazine when there were hundreds of thousands of kids living with gunfire around them,” Huffington said. “They could have used that precious time to address those problems.”

Huffington criticized The New York Times’ coverage of the Crandall Canyon Mine tragedy both in her blog and during the lecture, saying that The Times journalists might as well have “stayed home and made phone calls” instead of flying to Huntington, Utah, to cover the story.

The coverage was poor, she said, because it did not investigate and only touched on the subject while it was newsworthy.

Instead, Huffington said, the mainstream media, including The Times, needs to stop the “toxic cycle” of focusing on stories that only entertain and should instead investigate stories for a long period of time until the public realizes their importance. Alternative media, she said, benefit because they suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder and continue to cover a story or issue until change occurs.

“There is no reason not to stay on a story until you actually see some change,” Huffington said.

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Maegan Burr

Arianna Huffington, author and co-founder of huffingtonpost.com, speaks Saturday at Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School as part of the McCarthey Family Lecture Series about the Bush administration and the importance of independent journalists.