the kicker

Huffy HuffPo

June 11, 2009

The headline of a post on the Washington City Paper’s City Desk blog reads, “HuffPo Scolds Washingon City Paper for Linking.” Wait, shouldn’t those outlets be switched?

Well, no. For April Fool’s Day, City Paper parodied The Huffington Post’s layout model on its home page, calling the edition “Huffington City Paper.” “The whole thing,” Erik Wemple explains in the post, “is a rip-off of the classic HuffPo homepage, complete with navigation tabs, the ginormous news link at the top, and running feeds from our blogs.” (Where would it have fallen on our April Fool’s Day news-prank matrix, I wonder? Keeping company with “The Guardian goes all-Twitter”?)

That was more than two months ago. This past Tuesday, City Paper columnist Amanda Hess blasted HuffPo for its nipple- (or is that traffic-) driven priorities, after which City Paper received a request from HuffPo asking it to take down the parody page from its archive. One of its reasons: “The official was perturbed,” writes Wemple, “that the parody page that virtually no one has clicked on since April Fool’s contains a link to the Huffington Post site.” No switching necessary (though perhaps a little bit of baiting) in that headline after all.

UPDATE: David Carr, on the NYT‘s Media Decoder blog, has an update in the form of an e-mail from Arianna Huffington, who apparently had been traveling all day yesterday. She says that HuffPo “never had an issue with the Washington City Paper parody,” and explains the kerfuffle. From Carr’s post:

Yesterday, while reading through the comments on Amanda Hess’s post, one of our editors clicked on a link to the parody page and saw that it contained all new City Paper blog posts (the news stories were all from around April 1). We assumed this was a tech error and called to point out — nicely and politely, not “scoldingly” — that the page was still active and being regularly refreshed. And we asked that the new blog posts, not the page, be taken down. They seemed to understand our point, since the new blogs were removed and the original blogs that went up on April 1 were put back.

Huffington goes on to state, a bit insistently, that, “Bottom line: We didn’t – and don’t – have a problem with someone having fun at our expense.”

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In any case, as Carr notes, it sounds like a misunderstanding.

Jane Kim is a writer in New York.