Eric Alterman’s article in the current New Yorker, Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper, describes the Huffington Post’s editorial process:
The Huffington Post’s editorial processes are based on what Peretti has named the “mullet strategy.” (“Business up front, party in the back” is how his trend-spotting site BuzzFeed glosses it.) “User-generated content is all the rage, but most of it totally sucks,” Peretti says. The mullet strategy invites users to “argue and vent on the secondary pages, but professional editors keep the front page looking sharp. The mullet strategy is here to stay, because the best way for Web companies to increase traffic is to let users have control, but the best way to sell advertising is a slick, pretty front page where corporate sponsors can admire their brands.”
I’m posting this for two reasons: 1) it’s hilarious, 2) we’re actually having conversations about this right now about thesocietypages.org. (Not that we’ve called it the “mullet strategy” — though we will now!) With the magazine, we have to be really careful and selective about what makes the cut, so it’s so tempting to go in the complete opposite direction for the web and just throw every idea imaginable up on the web. As web editor, I’m pushing strongly for our website to not become the trash can of Contexts: where ideas not good enough for the magazine go to die. On the other hand, this is a pretty interesting way to think about managing community websites, funny imagery and all.