Dear Arianna Huffington …

Whether or not Arianna Huffington ends up doing an interview for “Fit to Print” is still up in the air.  The “Fit to Print” team has forwarded her various requests for interviews and does hope she will eventually respond to one of them.

Why would it be great to sit down with her for an interview?  It may seem obvious, but her co-founded news aggregation site, The Huffington Post, still seems to be the talk of the town. It’s the most visited news blog on the internet.  Some of the debate circling The Huffington Post is good, some of it bad, but the bulk of that chatter is coming from legacy media executives and traditional news organizations.  After all, The Huffington Post has boasted over 40 million unique visitors to it’s site according to a recent Business Insider report. Much of it’s content is linked back to sites such as nytimes.com and others.  Legacy news organizations continue to feel pressure from The Huffington Post because of what many view as theft of their original content.  Her take on these and other issues, outside the comfort zone of an appearance on The Charlie Rose Show or another traditional media circuit might prove worthwhile for her.  If nothing else, it would prove to her audience that she can take one-on-one questions from a pro like Keith Olberman from MSNBC, while also taking the time to talk to nobodies such as the “Fit to Print” team (though my “Fit to Print” teams knows I personally don’t find them to be nobodies).

But it doesn’t seem that she is open to such requests…

Sure, if you’re a freelance writer trying to make a name for yourself and you have a great story idea for her blog, she might drop you an e-mail.  But what about filmed interviews from independents like us, who work to unearth topics and questions not being asked by traditional media?

When I plugged in “Arianna Huffington inteview” into a YouTube search, it came up with various pages of her giving interviews to reporters from Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, and of course …The Charlie Rose Show.  The closest matches I found to any ‘independent’ circuit interviews came from The Henry Rollins Show on IFC, Harvard Center for Public Leadership, and a few questions she answered while walking past a female reporter at The Webby Awards.

A few of the things the “Fit to Print” team hopes to ask her (if she would agree to an interview), relate directly to the newspaper industry, but also to the type of content that is produced for the web overall.  For example, it would be interesting to get her take on the future of long-form investigative journalism (especially since she has set-up an investigative fund through her blog), how reading habits are different online compared to print, the dangers bloggers and independent journalists face with libel lawsuits, how search engine optimization is playing a major role in the news industry, and several other vital topics of conversation.

Traditional media has caved when it comes to grilling game-changing entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington.  There is a fine line when it comes to approaching people with the mindset of “I’m out to ‘get’ them” and those who approach people with the intention of having a well-rounded and open discussion.   After all, wasn’t that Huffington’s intention when she helped to create The Huffington Post – an open platform for ordinary citizens outside of the mainstream media to have their voices heard?

In 2009 alone, The Huffington Post‘s traffic spiked by more than 150% from the previous year from 3.8 to 9.8 million, according to MediaBistro.

Yes, many critics look down on The Huffington Post because of it’s occasional gossip story, such as the Tiger Woods scandal (which happened to spike the site’s traffic exponentially).  However, the site does an amazing job at allowing non-traditional journalists the opportunity to build a reputation and perhaps even a career by providing them with a jumping-off platform where their stories can reach a wider audience.

But how does Arianna feel about the future of the newspaper industry?  How does she respond to critics who have once written for the site?
Huffington has been accused in the past of plagiarism. For instance, she settled out of court in 1981 for accusations of plagiarizing content for her book Maria Callas.  Later in 1988, Huffington was again was accused by Lydia Gasman, an art history professor from the University of Virginia, for plagiarizing material for her biography of Pablo Picasso titled, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer. “What she did was steal twenty years of my work”, stated Gasman.
One can argue whether or not these, and other allegations are relevant to the work being done at The Huffington Post.  Perhaps The Huffington Post is a perfect new model for journalism.
Our concern:  How can you know unless you ask tough questions about the past in order to predict what the person might offer for the future?
We have extended you invitations for an interview via  e-mail, sent you a message on Facebook and have called your offices to connect with you, Arianna.
The ball is in your court if you care to chat with us ….
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