In August of last year, Arianna Huffington sat on a plush leather couch in a new television studio built on the fourth floor of The Huffington Post’s New York City offices.
“Welcome to a new kind of conversation!” Huffington said, ushering in HuffPost Live, the company’s attempt to disrupt the world of video news. Now six months in, HuffPost Live continues to chug along, producing 12 hours of content a day on topics as wide-ranging as celebrity gossip to turmoil in the Middle East, and everything in between. It is a proper TV news outfit, without the legacy constraints of TV news, though also without the massive daily viewership that TV news currently sees.
“I think that when it comes to TV in America–which is where the majority of video has been–it could use new sources, new voices, even a new format,” HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin says. “We have been doing this for six months and we are trying to iterate and reinvent the format, and I think there is much more to come.”
New ventures attempt to solve problems, and the problem that Huffington and her team diagnosed was one of flow. In traditional TV news, information flows out to the viewer, but rarely, if ever, does information flow back.
“Part of the shift away from television is a shift away from the authoritative, top-down model,” Shihab-Eldin says. “In a conversation you have to listen, and on TV it is all output, there is very little responsiveness to the conversations around it.”