LA Press Club to honor Huffington

Take me to the kool-aid and pour me a double because the only way I'm going to be able to understand this one is with chemical assistance.

Next month, the Los Angeles Press Club, of which I have been a member for many years, will hold its 51st Annual Southern California Journalism Awards gala honoring Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, among others.

Yep. Arianna Huffington.

Yep. This year. Next month. June 14.

Not that Huffington doesn't deserve to be recognized by her peers with "the prestigious 2009 President's Award." Her Web site has attracted a large audience, is consistently well done, and, personally, I think she's a fine human being, I mean, as far as I can tell. It's not like we move in the same circles but, from what I've seen and heard, she seems like someone I'd enjoy having a few imported beers with.

But of all years to honor Arianna Huffington ...

Surely the Press Club's deciders are aware of all the cutbacks in journalism, particularly in the newspaper industry. So, they have to be aware that Huffington has caught some serious flack lately for borrowing bits of media content, or, as Gawker put it, for "jacking other people's content."

Even people who've never set foot in a newsroom have heard all that stuff.

Huffington denies she's to blame for any of the newspaper industry's woes, and I'm not suggesting otherwise. Plenty of people, like Jack Shafer over at Slate, say it's a mistake to "get all huffy about the Huffington Post."

But, in a year when journalists have been laid off in record numbers, when their salaries have been cut, and their benefits have been reduced, wasn't there someone else the LA Press Club could have honored?

Ah, never mind.

Just hand me the kool-aid and let's make a toast to Arianna now because I already have a conflict the night of the gala and, even if I didn't, tickets are $125 per member and $250 for non-members and, whoa, that's not my circle either.

-- TJ Sullivan

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