The purchase of the Huffington Post by AOL left many of the progressive writers and readers that made the site into a powerhouse looking for a new home.
Adbusters magazine set out to unite those disaffected former supporters of Arianna Huffington's flagship site by suggesting they use social media to promote alternatives.
"Socialite Arianna Huffington built a blog-empire on the backs of thousands of citizen journalists," a post at Adbusters begins. "She exploited our idealism and let us labor under the illusion that the Huffington Post was different, independent and leftist. Now she’s cashed in and three thousand indie bloggers find themselves working for a megacorp."
But the Huffington Post is not Arianna’s to sell. It is ours: the lefty writers and readers, environmentalism activists and anti-corporate organizers who flooded the site with 25 million visits a month. So we’re going to take it back.
We’ll stop going to her site. And we’ll stop blogging for her too. Then we’ll give birth to an alternative to AOL’s HuffPo by using the #huffpuff hash tag to tell the world about our favorite counter-culture websites and indie blogs.
"We are the ones who built the Huffington Post. And now we will be the ones who will huff & puff it down," Adbusters concluded.
A quick search of the social network Twitter indicated that the hashtag #huffpuff was already being used to propose alternatives.
"Following #HuffPuff? Try @therealnews | @truthout | @buzzflash | @factcheckdotorg | @CatoInstitute | @Truthdig | @AlterNet," James Young tweeted.
Al Giordano, publisher of Narco News, pledged to no longer provide content to the Huffington Post.
"As long as I live and breathe, this online newspaper - Narco News and its pages - will never be sold to a profit-making venture," he wrote. "Somebody has to set a higher standard around this water cooler called the Internet."
Arianna Huffington's new role as editor in chief of AOL sites has also caused some conservative bloggers to take their business elsewhere. Matt Lewis announced Tuesday that he was leaving AOL's Politics Daily for The Daily Caller.
"As a conservative (albeit, an admittedly iconoclastic one), it is vital that I maintain the freedom to call them like I see them," he wrote.
An informal survey of 500 Huffington Post commenters conducted by The Daily Beast found that 81 percent opposed the acquisition while only 19 percent expressed some optimism about it.
"We made HuffPost and we are being abandoned," one commenter wrote. "They will aim for the center. That’s where the big money is."
Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post's co-founder and editor-in-chief, had been trying to downplay the importance of partisan politics after the announcement.
"We don't see ourselves as left," Huffington told Politico. "And I think it’s one area where news consumers are ahead of the media, because they know that continuing to see everything that’s happening as a right-left issue is missing what’s happening, and is also making it much harder for us to be properly informed."
-- with earlier reporting by Eric W. Dolan