We hear the Huffington Post is trying to buy Outside.in, the local news aggregator from supremely smug literary Park Sloper Steven Johnson. HuffPo embracing the local news business as promised? Bizarre.
Sure, publisher Arianna Huffington made noises about local HuffPos last year, but that was when she was in the process of raising an impressive $25 million. No one expected her to stick to that plan, particularly given the low-margins of selling advertising on a local level. (For a sense of how that business is doing ask, oh, any daily newspaper in the country. Or Curbed!)
If HuffPo were going to enter those markets, wouldn't it make more sense to do it on the cheap, shaking some free writers out of its giant database of "citizen journalists" rather than paying for a curious Web application that hasn't exactly set the world on fire? Maybe not: Huffington let her once-successful database project decay before handing it off to her Godson. And as any old media company can tell you, when you lose the ability to innovate internally, it's time to roll out the acquisitions.