Huffington Post to Launch College News Section in February

BIG NEWS within collegemediatopiaThe Huffington Post will launch a college news section in the middle of next month, according to several trusted sources. The section’s foundation will be news pulled with permission from established U.S. student media outlets, most prominently college newspapers.

The idea is basically UWIRE without the content sharing: It’s a high-profile, one-stop site promoting student newswork and providing readers with a glimpse of what’s going down in the current campus zeitgeist. “Nowhere else is the content of disparate college newspapers brought together to form a cohesive collegiate narrative,” a portion of the HuffPo pitch explains. “People care about what happens on college campuses- their own, and those of their friends and family.”

The basics: Agreeable student media will make some or all of their content available for the HuffPo section, for free. The hope is that HuffPo’s high profile will be the payoff, leading to click-throughs of the featured content and higher traffic for student media sites overall. The one thing required in return: the placement of a HuffPo College News widget on student media sites that will feature an ever-fresh listing of top stories from the section overall. Among the questions that student media outlets face: Is the possible traffic elevation for their sites worth the HuffPo branding on their homepages?

The introductory slide of a PowerPoint presentation being sent to college news outlets with a basic breakdown of how the section will work.

A small editorial team headed by former standout Daily Texan top editor Leah Finnegan will regularly cull through the student news content to decide what to feature. As an FAQ sheet being sent to student news outlets explains, “We’ll choose a crop of stories from your original work and feature them on the site, linking back to you as per our general linking protocol. We usually excerpt anywhere from two sentences to two paragraphs from the article- just to get enough flavor from the story- followed by a link back to you.”

A separate PowerPoint pitch mentions: “In addition to aggregating content from your newspaper’s site, we would be interested in having your paper’s columnists and reporters contribute to the College Vertical as bloggers. They can opine on politics, fashion, campus life, what it’s like to be 22… pretty much anything on their minds.”

The general reaction I am receiving from in-the-know j-students is a post-UWIRE appreciation that someone with new media muscle is taking the reins and promoting college journalism 2.0. Students’ lingering questions, more curiosities than concerns:

1) What is in it for us? (Basically, will the occasional extra content exposure be worth letting an outsider profit from our work?)

2) What will happen if UWIRE returns or a similar org wants to set up an exclusive content sharing service, sans any HuffPo affiliation?

3) Is the College News widget just a first step in a broader HuffPo college media alignment/takeover?

4) And finally: Is HuffPo the right new media muscle for this needed action? Simply put, are there any ethical or political negatives to being aligned with it? As one top editor of a student media outlet wrote me, “I think one of my other concerns is that HuffPost is a liberal-tilted Web site. While I don’t think that would necessarily affect its college page, a partnership with the site might raise concerns in readers’ minds. I think what we’ll do is watch to see what it looks like once it’s up and running.”

My initial take: It’s about time. The U.S. News & World Report “Paper Trail” blog is a delicious appetizer, but the absence of UWIRE has left a true news consumption gap for those interested in news about college students, by college students. I will hold off on a final verdict until the section goes live, which will apparently be February 12.

6 Responses to “Huffington Post to Launch College News Section in February”
  1. Greg Linch says:

    There was a very spirited discussion during tonight’s #collegejourn, which included Leah and Adam from HuffPo:

  2. Suzanne Yada says:

    Seconded Greg’s comment. Cody Brown and Sam Rubenfeld had a ton of questions for Leah and Adam.

  3. Bryan Murley says:

    I don’t think the problem is that HuffPo is liberal. I think the problem is that it’s become just about as bad as People or TMZ with the aggregation and promotion of fluff, not to mention the anti-vaccination stuff they put up for a while. It’s certainly opportunistic.

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  2. […] Huffington Post to Launch College News Section in February – Dan Reimold points out that one of the biggest "buzz" names in online media is moving into the college media business (somewhat). I'll have more to say about this later, but for now, check out Dan's post and the #collegejourn chat from Sunday night. […]

  3. […] As previously reported, the section aims to be a high-profile, one-stop site promoting student newswork and providing readers with a glimpse of what’s going down in the current campus zeitgeist. It will aggregate and promote published student media content, linking back to the original piece on student outlets’ home sites.  In a post-UWIRE world, the idea is laudable- but not without some concerns from j-students and the advisers who love them. Among those voiced to me: HuffPost is too liberal.  HuffPost is too superficial. And there is not enough in the arrangement for us (student media). […]