HuffPo Loses Editor: Is Old Media Culture Clash to Blame?

How deep is the friction at Arianna Huffington’s site between those with backgrounds in traditional journalism and the New Breed?

Is Huffington Post going to have a hard time holding onto its high-profile hires from traditional media outlets?

When Women's Wear Daily reported Wednesday that the Huffington Post's Maura Egan would be leaving her position as culture and lifestyle editor, it didn't send any shocks through the media community.

After all, Egan, a reputable new hire from the New York Times, was one editor. But she was also one of several big hires from traditional media outlets, and she only lasted five months.  

When WWD pressed Egan about her departure, she declined to go into detail. One can't read too much into that, but at the very least it doesn't appear to be a perfect fit or she would have stayed longer.

Will more traditional media refugees soon follow her out the door? 

Back in July, Arianna Huffington's site caught flak for its aggregation practices. It suspended young reporter Amy Lee for exhibiting shoddy ethics, angering most critics who felt that the aggregation problem was endemic to the organization.

Also Read: HuffPost Aggregation Causing Lots of Aggravation

At the time, business editor Peter Goodman, himself a respected former Times staffer, defended his new outlet. Goodman said that a specific problem was being addressed, that such aggregation practices were not widespread or tolerated at HuffPost and that the site would “redouble [its] efforts to make sure our reporters and editors understand that this sort of thing is unambiguously unacceptable.”

Goodman's defense of HuffPo was unsurprising, but the departure of Egan could suggest that writers and editors from traditional journalistic backgrounds are having a hard time fitting in at HuffPo, which mixes audience-friendly aggregation with celebrity blogs and original reporting. 

Who else may be following her out the door? That will reveal how serious any possible culture clash may be.

[Ed. note: An earlier version of this story included unsubstantiated speculation about other departures from the company. TheWrap regrets its inclusion in the story.]