How HuffPo beat

Traffic to the spunky Huffington Post has surpassed visitors to the New York Times for the first time, according to tracking firm comScore.

This time last year, the NYTimes’s 32.5-million figure overshadowed the Huffington Post’s 23.8-million. But HuffPo broke through the 30-million barrier this month, receiving 35.6-million unique visitors in May, up from 29.9-million in April. The received 33.6-million, up from 32.9-million.

ComScore’s figures show that traffic figures for the mega US news blog have surged over the past year, while those of have remained relatively steady. The New York Times began charging readers for full access to its website in late March.

As usual, simply reporting the figures does not reveal the full story. As Jeff Bercovici points out on his Forbes blog, HuffPo’s traffic surge is “mostly a function of the site’s integration with AOL”, which began in March. AOL acquired HuffPost in February this year for US$315-million. At the time, HuffPo had 60 employees and more than 3 000 contributing bloggers. There are now a reported 1 300 fulltime reporters employed by the Huffington Post.

According to Experian Hitwise figures published by Bercovici, referrals from AOL provided less than one percent of HuffPo’s traffic before the merge, “That number has skyrocketed.”

Launched in May 2005, the Huffington Post relied on a team of unpaid bloggers to create a voice that was independent, cheeky and insightful. A 100% online operation, it has not been shy to take on traditional media behemoths, especially media’s grandfather, the New York Times.

There’s no love lost between them with New York Times executive editor Bill Keller once referred to calling Arianna Huffington the “queen of aggregation”, in a dig at her site’s frequent linking to news items produced by other media outlets.

The two sites are still, however, far from competing for the spot as American’stop online news source. That honour remains with Yahoo! News, who had 90.3-million unique visitors in May, followed by CNN with 82.3-million.



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