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A New Way to Think About New Media: Arianna Huffington Talks to Toronto

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Why would The Toronto Star newspaper be funding Arianna Huffington's talk during Toronto Advertising Week; hadn't she effectively killed newspapers with The Huffington Post?

This initially puzzling relationship actually symbolizes Huffington's new media message perfectly: we need to dispose of the crippling either/or dichotomies halting progress and focus instead on an enriched hybrid model that's democratic, transparent, accessible and interactive.

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Toronto Star Publisher John Cruickshank welcomes Arianna Huffington

Dynamic, engaging and personable even from a podium, Huffington lay out the classic criticisms from new media naysayers with refreshing frankness and successfully rebutted their arguments with characteristic charm.

She praised the ability of new media's "obsessive-compulsive behavior" to stick with a story and "ferret out the truth," suggesting that its interactive and social nature diligently serves to strengthen accountability and transparency. Indeed, "trust is the new black" she exclaimed. With billions of people online each and every day, where can we go and who can we trust to get our news and information? To sites that have cast aside the smoke and mirrors, instead inviting users to openly comment, discuss and debate in real time. As Huffington aptly said of the media arena: 'it's no longer the province of the elite.'

While Huffington spent much of her time celebrating the connectivity of new media and our relationships to it, she concluded her remarks by speaking about the importance of learning how to disconnect. In this dizzying digital age she reminded us that we must protect the most precious resource we have, ourselves.

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Arianna Huffington with The Canadian Tenors

In tune with Huffington's peaceful final message, The Canadian Tenors surprised everyone with a tune of their own and sang "Hallelujah" by Canadian great Leonard Cohen. As their magical voices filled the room I think we all took Huffington's message to heart and relaxed into our chairs... after all, we still had the evening to blog about it.

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Arianna Huffington and Marissa Bronfman

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The Canadian Tenors and Marissa Bronfman

Arianna Huffington spoke on day two of Toronto Advertising Week at the Royal Conservatory of Music's brand new Koerner Hall. The theme was "The Brave New World of the "New Media"" and was generously funded by The Toronto Star.

Images courtesy of Louis D., Central Image Agency