Jurno Award Goes to… Arianna Huffington??


By: Warner Todd Huston

Well, I am just as shocked as Simon Dumenco over at AdvertisingAge.com is that the leading anti-journalist of our day, Arianna Huffington, was just awarded the Fred Dressler Lifetime Achievement Award. I mean, Huffington a “journalist”? Come on, isn’t that stretching things just a tad?

Dumenco is flabbergasted that Huffington won this award even though she “thinks journalists should work for free,” a charge he makes because the HuffPo does not for the most part pay its bloggers for content. But I am flabbergasted because the Huffington Post is the farthest thing from responsible journalism there is. It is a left-wing advocacy site that invites anyone that agrees with the party line to contribute, sure, but it is not a site interested in actual journalistic integrity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against sites like HuffPo, nor against advocacy, left-wing or otherwise. It absolutely has its place in the scheme of things. But Arianna Huffington has never been and is not now a person interested n traditional journalism. In fact, she isn’t even a reliable advocate because over the decades she’s been on every side of every issue! So an award for journalism to this woman is a farce worthy of a Saturday morning cartoon show. (Does that date me? Do they even HAVE Saturday morning cartoon shows anymore?)

So, how can Syracuse University justify giving this particular award to Huffington? It isn’t a principled choice, for sure. Now, it does make sense if all you want is to have your award talked about, advertised, and to hit the news cycle. But, is that what an award should be about? Shouldn’t a recipient of an award be someone that truly reflects the principles that underlies the basis for the award instead of a mere grab for the limelight, a dash for some 15 minutes of media exposure?

Dumenco also wondered how Huffington could get an award over the lack of quality content in her blog.

Oh, give me a break! Content, in Arianna’s world, is not king, and it never was. Link bait is king; opportunism is king. If content was really honored at The Huffington Post, the site wouldn’t have gotten in trouble last December for lifting content wholesale from other sites that do pay for their own content. (In case you missed the scandal, HuffPo’s Chicago outpost got caught red-handed stealing detailed, bylined capsule concert previews — not just quoting them but copying them in their entirety — from the likes of the Chicago Reader and Time Out Chicago. See “Arianna Huffington’s Scuzzy Copying Pisses Off Chicagoans” on Gawker.)

Couldn’t agree more.

Anyway, this “award” tells me that our universities and honoraria in the United States are continuing a long slide into meaninglessness and nullity. From the badly abused “honorary degree” issued to so many barely literate Hollywood stars at major universities everywhere to these sorts of awards that go to individuals that simply don’t uphold the actual principles the award is celebrating, we are seeing that “celebrity” is a reward unto itself with no requirements to aid enlightenment for the public or to add any lasting contributions to society needed.

The anti-journalist getting a lifetime journalism award is surreal. If I knew what it meant, I’d even say its Kafkaesque.

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