Is It a Problem That Arianna Huffington Joined the Board at Uber?
She’s a fierce advocate for getting enough sleep, editor-in-chief at The Huffington Post, and now, Arianna Huffington is getting into the ride-sharing business:
The announcement Wednesday that Huffington is joining Uber’s board had many wondering how her own news site will cover the company now.
In a blog post (on The Huffington Post, naturally) Huffington sought to allay those fears, writing that “as HuffPost’s editor-in-chief, I have recused myself from any and all editorial coverage of Uber.”
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But Dave Jamieson, a labor reporter at The Huffington Post, says the newsroom often posts multiple stories about Uber a day, reporting on controversial issues like the company’s independent contractor model and safety concerns. He says the move could make editors who work under Huffington more cautious:
“Despite the assurances to staff, one senior editor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the arrangement ‘makes me very uncomfortable,'” Jamieson wrote.
Uber has been a controversial company for years. Just last week the company reached a $100 million deal with drivers in class-action suits, and the company has been hammered for its safety record and background checks.
Tech journalist and PandoMedia founder Sarah Lacey, who previously worked under Huffington’s media umbrella at TechCrunch, said she was “sad and hurt and disgusted” by the news and went so far as to call Uber the “North Korea of startups” in a Facebook post.
Media ethicist Kelly McBride from Poynter penned a list of advice for Huffington, saying it might be smarter for her to take on more of a publisher’s role, instead of staying at the helm of the newsroom. Many say that’s the key difference between Huffington and other media moguls like News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, or even Jeff Bezos at The Washington Post. She’s not just part of the business arm, she’s regularly handling coverage decisions.
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Still, tech writer and entrepreneur Om Malik says it’s not necessarily a bad thing that Huffington is joining the Uber board. “The question is should she be the editor of HuffPo considering the third-rail nature of Uber and its relationship with society at large, and the global economy in general,” he writes in a blog post.
As for Huffington, she said she’s excited about how Uber, the massive San Francisco-based startup with a $62.5 billion valuation, is going to transform cities, “change the world and improve people’s lives.”