Arianna Huffington said on Tuesday that AOL will not skew toward left-wing politics under her leadership of the internet portal, but her new partner AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said that there would be “potential reductions in staff” coming.
In an exclusive video interview with TheWrap 36 hours after the media world was shaken by the news that AOL would acquire The Huffington Post for $315 million, Huffington said “absolutely no” to the question of whether AOL content would have a leftist political bent. (See video I, interview continues in second video.)
“Of course not,” she said. “AOL is not a political site. AOL has Politics Daily, a section which covers politics, but it’s not a political site. I was always clear that HuffPo would not just be a political site. I always wanted it to be an Internet newspaper, covering every aspect of life. “
In a wide-ranging interview about how the acquisition might change AOL and The Huffington Post, Armstrong said that he and Huffington would work much of it out in the next 30 to 45 days. Staff cuts are probably on the way.
“There are synergies that come from content cost,” Armstrong said. “There potentially could be reductions in staff, but that’s not what the head count is aimed at. We feel that synergy is something we’re working through in next 30 to 45 days.”
Asked specifically about reports that Politics Daily and Daily Finance would go away in favor of HuffPo brands, he said, “We’re going to work through this in the next 30 to 45 days. Our job is to put the best things together… My guess is that the majority of AOL’s brands that can stand on their own will continue to stand on their own. Those brands where there are synergies will be put together.”
Huffington made clear that she intends to continue to put resources behind Patch, AOL’s local news initiative.
Asked if she intended to start paying any of HuffPo’s 9,000 registered bloggers, Huffington said no. “That’s not how we see blogging. We are providing a super-charged, turbo-charged platform,” she said.
She also said that the acquistion had made some early members of the site very rich, though she declined to say who.
“Some people will make over $1 million. These are wonderful, moving stories.”
And she deflected criticisms from some in the media that she underpays (or does not pay) some staffers.
“I don’t think our staff is feeling underpaid,” she said. “Our staff is incredibly well paid. We wouldn’t get Peter Goodman and Howard Fineman if they weren’t well paid. It’s not true, really.”
Meanwhile, though there were some skeptics that AOL’s bold gambit would work, Armstrong said the reaction to news of his acquistion was overwhelmingly positive. Most of the e-mail he got said one word, “Wow,” the AOL boss said.