SEO, font size, and word count. Dumb it down, sex it up, and throw it up. No doubt it's effective. It's a shame, because this type of selective pressure is breeding less insightful and informative news.
I wonder if it will get so bad that an 'expensive' subscription to a competent journalism outfit will seem attractive, or will we collectively just stop caring as we are fed more and more crap? It's not enough to have some customers value a pricier better product, -you need a critical mass of them...
The point is not to criticize the Huffington Post for being extremely efficient at optimizing its work. They invested a lot, they trained their people well. Of course, the bulk of HuffPo’s content comes from : a) unpaid bloggers — 9,884 new ones last year alone according to Arianna’s count; b) content borrowed from others media and re-engineered by 170 journalists, a term that encompass various kinds of news producers and a bunch of true writers and editors; c) a small percentage of original reporting. Each day, all this concurs to “over 1,000 stories published” that will translate into 1.4 million of Facebook referrals and 250,000 comments. Staggering numbers indeed. With some downsides, too: 16,000 comments (!) for an 200 words article about Barack Obama asking to turn off Fox News during a campaign tour is not likely to attract enviable demographics advertising-wise. The HuffPo might make a billion page views per month, but most of them only yield dimes.
Why is it not the point? HuffPo serves SEO first, and consumers second. Their success doesn't mean they shouldn't be criticized. It is not "besides the point".
This is not simply about two businesses employing different models, in many respects, this is about two different types of business.