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Arianna Huffington Fires Back at Leonard Downie Jr.

The Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington responded to comments made in a speech Wednesday night by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, when he said of news aggregators like HuffPost, “Though they purport to be a new form of journalism, these aggregators are primarily parasites living off journalism produced by others.”

In a column for guardian.co.uk, Huffington wrote:

Once again, some in the old media have decided that the best way to save if not journalism at least themselves is by pointing fingers and calling names. It’s a tactic familiar to schoolyard inhabitants everywhere: When all else fails, reach for the nearest insult and throw it around indiscriminately.

People like Leonard Downie continue to confuse aggregation with wholesale misappropriation, which violates copyright law. At HuffPost, aggregation goes along with a tremendous amount of original content, including original reporting and over 300 original blog posts a day. And we love it when someone links to one of our posts, or excerpts a small amount and links back to us.

We adhere to copyright law and “fair use” guidelines, and when excerpting a story, we only offer enough of it to give readers a flavor and the ability to comment on it, without gutting the incentive to go to the original source to read more.

Most sites understand the value of the link economy. It’s why HuffPost gets hundreds of requests from news outlets asking us to feature their material and link back to their site.

The bottom line is that we need to stop pretending that we can somehow hop into a journalistic “Way Back Machine” and return to a past that no longer exists and can’t be resurrected.

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