The Huffington Post and the Economics of Blogging

In a lengthy post to his Five Thirty Eight blog at the New York Times over the weekend, Nate Silver sympathized with the Huffington Post's thousands of unpaid bloggers who took to Twitter with the hashtag #huffpuff to complain after the company announced its acquisition by AOL for $315 million. But then he quickly gets to work dismantling their argument. As it turns out, all of those blog posts -- surprise -- aren't worth very much.

The Huffington Post receives huge amounts of traffic: about 15.6 million page views per weekday, according to Quantcast. But it also has a huge amount of content accounting for those page views. It publishes roughly 100 original pieces per day -- paid and unpaid -- in its politics section alone. And politics coverage, according to Arianna Huffington, reflects only about 15 percent of the site's traffic.

How many page views, then, does an individual blog post receive? And roughly what is it worth to The Huffington Post?

A spokesman for The Huffington Post, Mario Ruiz, said that he was unable to share numbers more specific numbers than the the ones that have been released publicly. However, there is enough data in the public domain that we can make some reasonable inferences.

I will focus this analysis, more specifically, on the politics section of the Web site. The first step in our calculation is easy. Ms. Huffington says that politics represents about 15 percent of The Huffington Post's traffic; 15 percent of 15.6 million daily page views is 2.3 million.

Those 2.3 million page views are split between about 100 articles per day. But the distribution is highly unequal: unpaid blog posts receive much less traffic than those that The Huffington Post is paying its staff to write or curate.

Read the full story at the New York Times.