Kara Swisher

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AOL’s HuffPost Enters Crowded Online Arena With HuffPost Celebrity Site

The Huffington Post Media Group, AOL’s fast-moving content unit, is launching a celebrity site called HuffPost Celebrity today, as well as another called HuffPost Culture.

HuffPost Celebrity, which ate AOL’s former celeb-focused site PopEater, is described as “an insider-y look at entertainment and celebrity, with the latest news, original reporting and scoops from our team of reporters.”

While the Huffington Post has always had a huge dollop of celebrity news and blogs, it puts the much more focused site into a very crowded arena online, with competitors such as Yahoo’s omg!, Time Warner’s People magazine Web site, as well as AOL-owned TMZ.com.

That means a major focus on the news site’s mix of short and juicy items, blogs of the famous (and infamous) and lots and lot of videos and photos.

And, indeed, the new site, which can be viewed here, has that. The main feature now is a big photo with the title, “PHOTOS: Gaga Arrives Down Under” and blogs by Jon Favreau and Tracey Ullman and slide shows of “Kardashian Bikini Show & Tell” and “Child Stars That Avoided ‘The Curse.'”

The move is another of a series of them in an aggressive expansion of AOL’s content offerings under its chief, Arianna Huffington (pictured right), who now has the money and staff she has obviously long wanted to blow her online media empire out.

And it is clearly yet another sign of the reliance AOL now has on the media group’s platform, since it bought the Huffington Post for $315 million in January.

She recently launched a U.K. edition of the site, for example, and has pushed out a number of new categories as the HuffPost has subsumed all of AOL’s previous content efforts.

Here’s the official press release on the latest launches:


Entertainment News Site Goes Live Today, Arts Destination on Wednesday;

Both With HuffPost’s Real-Time News and Opinion, and Leading Edge User Engagement

“HuffPost Celebrity Network” Syndication Feed Launches Today

New York, NY (July 11, 2011) — The AOL Huffington Post Media Group, a leading source of news, opinion, entertainment, community and digital information, announces today the launch of two destination sites: HuffPost Celebrity (huffingtonpost.com/celebrity), a lively mix of real-time entertainment news, opinion and gossip, and HuffPost Culture (huffingtonpost.com/culture), covering a wide span of the arts, from theatre and film to music and dance. HuffPost Celebrity goes live today and HuffPost Culture launches Wednesday.

Both sites offer The Huffington Post’s unique combination of real-time news and opinion, and a passionate and engaged community powered by the latest social engagement tools. HuffPost Celebrity also features a syndication platform offering the latest entertainment news and blog posts to partner sites. HuffPost Celebrity is edited by Katy Hall, Managing Editor of Entertainment of AOL Huffington Post Media Group; HuffPost Culture is edited by Gazelle Emami, Culture Editor of AOL Huffington Post Media Group; and both sites are being overseen by John Montorio, Editorial Director, Entertainment, Culture & Lifestyle of AOL Huffington Post Media Group. Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, made the announcement.

“We’ve always offered a take on celebrity and culture that is a fun, high/low mix that reflects our users’ diverse range of interests and desire for comprehensive entertainment news delivered in real-time. Creating these two new destination sites will allow us to both expand and deepen our coverage,” said Arianna Huffington. “Our goal is to give our readers everything from buzzy items to thought-provoking opinion pieces delivered with a style and a voice that’s uniquely HuffPost. We want to inform and entertain, while engaging our community around these subjects and serving as a starting point for compelling ‘digital watercooler’ conversations.”

HuffPost Celebrity is an insider-y look at entertainment and celebrity, with the latest news, original reporting and scoops from our team of reporters. The site is accessible, fresh, and filled with the kinds of stories our readers love to share. HuffPost Celebrity encourages users to engage with stories and features the most up-to-the-minute photos, videos, slide shows, and blog posts from industry executives to celebrities, all weighing in in real-time. Among the talent that has blogged on The Huffington Post are Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, George Clooney, Madonna, Ryan Reynolds, Larry David, Bill Maher, Rob Lowe, Russell Simmons, Natalie Portman and more.

HuffPost Culture will complement our entertainment coverage, delivering a one-stop-shop for all that’s happening in the performing arts, visual and broadcast arts, including dance, opera, music, architecture, film, TV, photography and more. The site will have visually arresting images of performances and art pieces with HuffPost’s singular style of coverage, including original reporting, artist profiles, reviews, interactive infographics, sneak peeks, slide shows, videos and more. HuffPost Culture will be a forum for discussion of arts and culture, and serves as a guide for users wanting to stay abreast of cultural news and events.

The site will offer a number of ongoing features meant to explore the arts from all angles. For example, as part of a “Strange Bedfellows” series — following unexpected collaborations between artists — HuffPost Culture will offer an exclusive video collaboration between David Lynch and the band Interpol; “On Our Radar” will highlight emerging talent; and profiles of artists include an “Architects in America” series. HuffPost Culture will feature exclusive playlists from musicians and DJs, starting off with a summer playlist from Chromeo. The weekly “Culture Forecast” will serve as a handy guide to what’s happening in arts and culture. At launch, HuffPost Culture will offer different best-of-the-year-so-far picks, from music to art exhibitions. In addition, HuffPost Culture will present curated content from AOL sites such as Moviefone and HuffPost Celebrity, as well as the best arts coverage from around the web.

The launch of the HuffPost Celebrity Network today offers media partners syndicated, constantly updating entertainment content available for use across a wide variety of platforms. Participating partners include SFGate, Tribune’s Zap2It, and Russell Simmons’ Global Grind. “HuffPost Celebrity demonstrates our ability to combine compelling content with a platform centered around user engagement, while our new feed, the HuffPost Celebrity Network, shows how we can most effectively leverage our unique assets,” said Kerry Trainor, Senior Vice President/General Manager, AOL Entertainment. “We make it turnkey for our partners to offer their users the highest quality entertainment news, whether it’s for the latest tablet or a long-standing website. We want to offer a vibrant distribution feed that reaches a wide audience for our content, while enabling our partners to engage their users around it as well –- it’s a classic win-win.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald