NEW YORK — The Huffington Post covers the popular news of the day — and continues to follow those stories as long as they are in high demand by its readers — even if that means more coverage of Tiger Woods’ troubles.
"We love the Tiger Woods story," said Eric Hippeau, CEO for The Huffington Post, who described it as "the gift that kept on giving."
In addition to those celebrity news items that the tabloids commonly feast upon, the site also extensively covers news stories such as the protests and unrest in Iran and the incredible devastation from the earthquake in Haiti, drawing a massive audience and plenty of reader interaction.
The online news site even inspires citizen journalists to cover events as they unfold when the mainstream media are largely absent.
"We had this network of people in Iran … (who) kept feeding us stories and photos which proved to be incredibly accurate," he said, adding that the site carried the Iran drama as its top story for more than a week.
Political coverage amounts to about 20 to 25 percent of the site’s content, Hippeau said Wednesday, during a discussion at the Real Estate Connect conference in New York City.
"We’re very big in popular culture, and business," he said, and more recently launched a sports section. The site also features a comedy section, with digital video clips and other content.
"Everything we do is telling stories about current events. We are as much social network as we are a content site," Hippeau said.
The unique monthly visitors at the site can range up to 35 million per month, eclipsing the traffic of such mainstream news sites as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Individual items at the site can gather hundreds and even thousands of comments. …CONTINUED
The war of words over NBC’s late-night TV lineup has been a particular hot topic: on Wednesday an item with the headline "Conan Blasts NBC Over Tonight Show Shake Up" that featured a video clip attracted 2,501 comments as of Wednesday evening.
Another popular item: "Roxxxy Sex Robot (PHOTOS): World’s First ‘Robot Girlfriend’ Can Do More Than Chat," drew 752 comments.
Hippeau said the site publishes about 2 million comments from its audience each month. "We have this very engaged audience."
The site produces original content, with its own White House correspondent and staff, and follows fair-use doctrine when it is sourcing stories from other media, he said.
The news site works to "curate" its content, meaning that it seeks to add richer information that will make articles more compelling to its audience.
When asked about whether the company is profitable, Hippeau responded that the company is "in investment mode," and has doubled its revenue and traffic each year.
And while many news agencies are cutting staff across the country, Hippeau said, "This is the Golden Age of news" in terms of readership, noting that the online audience for The New York Times is almost 10 times as large as its print audience.
Mobile technology is making news more accessible too, he said — and about 10 percent of page views at HuffingtonPost.com are attributed to the company’s app.
"That means there are more people accessing news and engaged in news than ever before, so it’s a big business opportunity."
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