Fairfax Media joint venture with HuffPost comes to an end
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.
Tory Maguire, a former News Corp executive, edits the site.