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Here’s a chronology that explains how this HuffPo reprimand came about:
April 1, 2009: Washington City Paper decides to give its readers a different look on its homepage. Instead of the usual lineup of images and blog links, we go with an April Fool’s edition titled “Huffington City Paper.” The whole thing 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. People love it. Our own staff wonders if we shouldn’t try to move permanently to something modeled after this platform, which is better suited to highlight the various newsie posts we produce each day. One reader comes to the conclusion that the Huffington Post has acquired Washington City Paper.
April 2, 2009: The parody recedes into our archive, just as much a relic as any other April Fool’s joke. It’s history. Our tech guy says that in order to find the page, you’d have to know what you’re looking for; it has gotten a barely measurable number of pageviews (around 300) since the April Fool’s activity.
June 9, 2009: Washington City Paper columnist Amanda Hess writes a post blasting the Huffington Post entertainment page for using sexism to drive pageviews. An excerpt: “People—even progressive, conservative-hating, liberal-minded people—will click on nipple slip slideshows and boob jobs guessing games, and that’s a big part of the Huffington Post’s model.” Hess’s column gets some nice rotation on the Web, aided by a link on the Romenesko site.
June 10, 2009: Washington City Paper receives a request from a Huffington Postie asking us to remove the parody page from our archive. The HuffPo person expresses a couple of concerns. One is that the blog feed to this well-hidden page is still flowing. Correct: Deep within our archive, the page is sitting there, with virtually no one ever clicking on it, and inside of this dark Internet cave, it continues to update via the Washington City Paper blog feed. Again, the parody disappeared from our homepage on April 2, never to reappear. So what’s the gripe here?
The second HuffPo objection is the headliner: The official was perturbed that the parody page that virtually no one has clicked on since April Fool’s contains a link to the Huffington Post site. That bears repeating: The Huffington Post scolded us for linking to them.
Photo courtesy of eyeliam, Creative Commons Attribution License