Huffington has written 10 books, including the recent On Becoming Fearless … in Love, Work and Life. She operates as editor-in-chief of Huffington Post from her home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, where she surfs websites such as Slate and The Times in London keeping up with the news.
She spends evenings trying to woo more writers to the stable.
"She meets a lot of people," says Ephron, a longtime friend. "She'll listen to them for three or four minutes, and then say, 'You should write a blog about that.' She just throws it right back at them — and then calls them the next day to find out if the blog is finished yet."
Most bloggers (you have to be invited in or ask to be invited via firstname.lastname@example.org) get a password that allows them access to the site. Some non-techies use other methods. Actor Alec Baldwin faxes his stuff in. Late historian Arthur Schlesinger used to call Huffington and dictate.
A point of view
The Post has taken off, says JupiterResearch analyst Barry Parr, because it has exploited the benefits of the Internet as a home for news with a point of view. "People are looking for places that pull together the best information into one place," he says. "This gives them a focused way to get it."
Traditional newspaper sites, he says, link to stories on their front pages by their reporters or wire services, but rarely to those of rival organizations.
Sites such as Huffington Post and Drudge Report don't care where it came from, just that it's interesting, he says. Traditional newspapers, if they are going to survive, need to follow Huffington's model, he says: "If they don't point them to interesting stories that are elsewhere, Arianna will."
Huffington is a major newspaper fan and doesn't think they're going away anytime soon.
"Not in my lifetime," she says. "Papers have to learn how to adapt, so that today's news, which is read online, doesn't feel stale the next morning. There's a very good future."
As the Huffington Post looks to its own future, co-founder Lerer says it has no plans to begin paying bloggers. Ever.
"That's not our financial model," he says. "We offer them visibility, promotion and distribution with a great company."