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Hybrid model

Interview: Klaudia Prevezanos / cb, seOctober 10, 2013

As the "Huffington Post" website launches a German edition, its founder Arianna Huffington is planning further expansion. DW asks how her blend of journalism and commentary will change the country's media scene.

Arianna Huffington Photo: DW, Klaudia Prevezanos
Image: DW/K. Prevezanos

DW: What makes the German market a good target audience for the "Huffington Post"?

Arianna Huffington: Well, obviously a German market is an indispensable market for a media company that wants to cover Europe and the world effectively. Also, of course, Germany is a key market in so many of the political and economic decisions being taken, as well as in this big national and international conversation around burnout, stress, productivity, health. Because Germany here, and thanks to [German Minister of Labor and Social Affairs] Ursula von der Leyen, is pretty much at the forefront of taking steps to reduce stress and make people more effective and less susceptible to the dangers of burnout.

What strategies from the US model do you plan to employ on the German version? More importantly, what new strategies will you employ specifically for a German audience?

The "Huffington Post Germany", like each of our international editions, is going to be run by a group of German journalists: Sebastian [Matthes] and Cherno [Jobatey] are respectively the editor-in-chief and the editorial director. So it has to be completely rooted in German culture and German issues. At the same time, the "Huffington Post" brings something unique in terms of our hybrid model, that we're both a journalistic enterprise and a platform. And as a journalistic enterprise we employ over 700 journalists and reporters internationally, but we are also a platform where many voices can be heard. And we want to welcome everybody who is listening, who has something interesting to say, to say it on "Huffington Post Germany".

What changes will the "Huffington Post" bring to the German media market?

I think a greater recognition of the importance of platforms. You know, platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have become a big part of the landscape, because increasingly, self-expression is the new entertainment. You know, people want to be part of the story of our times and we have a very powerful platform to give them for that.

Screenshot Huffington Post 08.10.2013
The 'Huffington Post' blends traditional journalism with social media and commentary

What changes will the "Huffington Post" bring to the international media market in general, with the global expansion of your concept and platform?

Well, one of the exciting things with being in so many countries around the world is that they act as bureaus for each edition. So, for example, the German edition can use any of the content of the other editions, translate it and post it. So they have access to an enormous amount of content and they can decide what would be of interest to the German audience.

Every country will now have access to more content from each of our other editions. We're going to launch in Brazil in December and then when the [Football] World Cup comes, we're going to have dedicated reporters in Brazil covering that. And then the German edition can take that content and translate it and use it.

Will the other media in the countries where you are launching now have to change in reaction to the launch of the "Huffington Post" editions?

Well obviously, nobody has to change. But we hope that other media companies will see what we do and maybe learn some additional ways to engage with their readers. And now our partners in each country, like "Le Monde" in France, "El Pais" in Spain, the Espresso Group in Italy, the Asahi Shimbun newspapers in Japan, have access to all the "Huffington Post" technology, as well as ways of doing things.

You have now launched in Germany, and Brazil is next on the list. Which countries are planned after that?

After Germany and Brazil, it's going to be India and South Korea.

This will be in 2014?

Oh yes, yes. And a few other countries in 2014: Greece, my home country, and then we're looking at other areas: Australia, the Middle East, China, Russia.

The "Huffington Post" platform wants to be attractive to users and advertisers - with your international expansion you even offer an international advertising platform. But do global companies really need international advertising campaigns?

Yes, actually, we are finding tremendous interest by big global brands to advertise across our different sites, across our different editions. Because so often, they have to have advertisements in segmented markets and here they could do a whole advertising sponsorship or campaign across multiple markets.

You have had an active life so far. What's your next project after the "Huffington Post"?

There is not really another project. This is an expanding project. The great thing about the "Huffington Post" is that it's not like managing an existing operation, because it's constantly unfolding and evolving. I am also writing a book on the Third Metric [a way of measuring success that takes account of fulfillment and wellbeing, instead of the first "two metrics," money and power], which is going to come out in March, so that is something that I believe very passionately in.