I think we may be witnessing the first real digital media business model that will be profitable over the long term. I also think the feisty global digital media startups that have tried to have a global impact could very likely be eaten for lunch. Consider what Ms. Huffington says in her announcement post:
At the first meeting of our senior team this year, I laid out the five areas on which I wanted us to double down: major expansion of local sections; the launch of international Huffington Post sections (beginning with HuffPost Brazil); more emphasis on the growing importance of service and giving back in our lives; much more original video; and additional sections that would fill in some of the gaps in what we are offering our readers, including cars, music, games, and underserved minority communities..
By combining HuffPost with AOL's network of sites, thriving video initiative, local focus, and international reach, we know we'll be creating a company that can have an enormous impact, reaching a global audience on every imaginable platform.
Remember my New Year's resolution? It's coming true -- and it's only the beginning of February. Let's go down the checklist: Local? AOL's Patch.com covers 800 towns across America, providing an incredible infrastructure for citizen journalism in time for the 2012 election, and a focus on community and local solutions that have been an integral part of HuffPost's DNA. Check.Expertise on local focus, global reach, leveraging citizen journalism to cover important issues, with a flair for politics. Sound familiar? That's what Global Voices Online does right now. (And their coverage of what's been happening in Egypt has been excellent.) Their model of tracking and aggregating local bloggers in every corner of the world is a good one - but they've done it from a non-profit mindset. I'd argue they do it from an anti-profit mindset. GVO has been very resistant to work with for-profit enterprises (though there have been some exceptions) because they see it as a threat to their independence and credibility.
GVO is less than a year away from getting a titanic competitor in the form of a global media network with real financial backing, political clout, and strategically audacious leadership. I don't think GVO will die - there will always be a place for non-profit media - but I think the leaders of GVO and groups like Internews better be thinking long and hard about evolving, adapting to the new marketplace, and looking for new partnerships.