The HuffPo’s Arianna Huffington tweets she is stepping down as Editor in Chief

Arianna Huffington announced via Twitter this week that she is to step down as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. The ‘HuffPo’, which was launched in May 2005, has grown into an international media title attracting 81 million monthly unique visitors across all nine international Huffington Post sites. Huffington will move onto her new media company, Thrive Global, due to launch in November this year and will provide content, training, seminars and coaching on the topic of wellness.

It will be interesting to see how the HuffPo can continue to grow under new leadership. As the FT reported, Huffington’s departure “signals a changing of the guard in digital media”. As print newspaper circulation continues to decline, and a variety of digital news sources such as the BuzzFeed, and TMZ – none of which existed just over a decade ago – continue to attract an increasing number of readers, many observers (including Ms Huffington) will be watching closely to see just how these companies will keep us clicking in the years to come.

Looking back at the history of Huffington Post itself, the news and commentary site was launched along with Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti (who himself went on to found BuzzFeed) and chiefly offers news and blogs across subjects as diverse as business, politics, entertainment, lifestyle and technology. In summer 2007, a local version of HuffPo began in Chicago, followed by editions in New York, Denver and Los Angeles. It launched its UK edition in 2011.

The success of the HuffPo has not been without controversy. Contributors to the site are unpaid – a fact that was uncontentious until AOL bought the site for a whopping $315million. Indeed, a Facebook group called ‘Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?’ was launched to rally the unhappy bloggers together and demand compensation for their original unpaid content that helped put the site on millions of computer screens around the world. When AOL took over the HuffPo, Huffington was named president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. It is now owned by Verizon Communications.

Huffington was born in Athens in 1950, but moved to the UK in 1966 and subsequently studied economics at Cambridge University, where she became president of the Cambridge Union Society debate club, and moved to the USA in 1980. Following the launch of the HuffPo, she was listed at 12th in the Forbes list of the ‘Most Influential Women in Media’ and in 2014 Forbes named her as the 52ndMost Powerful Woman in the World’.

As media spectators and the communications industry gather to watch this changing of the guards, the one thing that holds true is the impressive, yet sometimes controversial, journalistic legacy that Huffington will leave behind.

Will Bleeker

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search