Fair­fax Me­dia joint ven­ture with Huf­fPost comes to an end

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Amanda Meade

Huf­fPost’s joint ven­ture with Fair­fax Me­dia has ended, leav­ing the fu­ture of 30 lo­cal staff in doubt.

As re­vealed by Guardian Aus­tralia, staff have been wait­ing for the axe to fall on the two-year-old Aus­tralian site fol­low­ing high-level talks with Fair­fax this week.

“Em­ploy­ees were briefed to­day on the de­ci­sion of Huf­fPost and Fair­fax to bring the Aus­tralian joint ven­ture to an end,” a spokesman said.

“Huf­fPost will op­er­ate a stand­alone Aus­tralian edi­tion from 1 De­cem­ber with a smaller lo­cal team. If re­de­ploy­ment is not pos­si­ble, re­gret­tably re­dun­dan­cies will oc­cur.”

Edi­to­rial and com­mer­cial em­ploy­ees of Huf­fPost Aus­tralia are un­sure of their fu­ture de­spite prom­ises from man­age­ment that some of them will be re­de­ployed by Fair­fax into its metro busi­ness. The fu­ture role of TV pre­sen­ter Lisa Wilkin­son, the web­site’s edi­tor at large, is also un­known.

The com­pany says the Huf­fPost Aus­tralia edi­tion will be main­tained from 1 De­cem­ber. Tory Maguire, a former News Corp ex­ec­u­tive, ed­its the site. On Wednesday af­ter­noon she posted on Twit­ter say­ing she would “take a day or two off be­fore find­ing the next chal­lenge”.

Staff said they had been told by sales teams re­cently that they were hitting tar­gets so the news came as a shock.

Sources say the end of the JV is a re­sult of the new di­rec­tion of the global me­dia com­pany un­der new own­ers AOL/Oath, rather than any fail­ure on the edi­to­rial or rev­enue side.

The CEO, JJ East­wood, who re­placed found­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Janz last year, re­cently told staff it was due to make a profit this year.

Huf­fpost Aus­tralia – which re­branded from the Huff­in­g­ton Post Aus­tralia this year – started in 2015, five years af­ter it first talked about set­ting up an of­fice here and ad­ver­tised for an Aus­tralian edi­tor.

Co-founder Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton walked away from the busi­ness last year.

Huf­fPost Aus­tralia’s lo­cal man­age­ment board in­cludes Fair­fax Me­dia’s group direc­tor of dig­i­tal ven­tures, Guy Reypert, and CEO of dig­i­tal pub­lisher Al­lure Me­dia, Ja­son Scott. Al­lure Me­dia is a wholly owned sub­sidiary busi­ness of Fair­fax.

Launched in 2005 by Huff­in­g­ton, the Huff­in­g­ton Post is a mix of news and com­men­tary and has a large army of vol­un­teer blog­gers made up of high-pro­file per­son­al­i­ties and lesser-known writ­ers.

Pho­to­graph: Tory Maguire

Tory Maguire, a former News Corp ex­ec­u­tive, ed­its the site.

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