Huf­fPost Aus­tralia staff fear for fu­ture amid talks with part­ner Fair­fax

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Amanda Meade

Staff at Huf­fPost Aus­tralia fear the axe could fall on the two-year-old arm of the global Huff­in­g­ton Post brand amid a re­view of its deal with lo­cal part­ner Fair­fax Me­dia.

Con­trib­u­tors have been told the web­site is not tak­ing com­mis­sions, Guardian Aus­tralia un­der­stands, and some of the staff of about 30 say the at­mos­phere is “bleak” as they await devel­op­ments.

The ed­i­tor-in-chief of Huf­fpost Aus­tralia, Tory Maguire, de­clined to com­ment on the fu­ture of the web­site. How­ever, a spokesper­son for Huf­fPost Aus­tralia said: “The joint ven­ture part­ners of Huf­fPost Aus­tralia are having high-level dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing the fu­ture of the JV. No def­i­nite de­ci­sions have been made.”

For­mer Nine To­day show co-host Lisa Wilkin­son, who will join the Ten net­work next year, is the web­site’s ed­i­tor at large, a role which has in­volved fil­ing less than one piece a month for a six-fig­ure pay packet. The last piece she wrote was pub­lished in Oc­to­ber.

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

The dis­cus­sions about the fu­ture of the site have been sparked by changes at the AOL-owned Huff­in­g­ton Post global em­pire af­ter the de­par­ture of co-founder Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton last year. “I thought Huf­fPost would be my last act. But I’ve de­cided to step down as Huf­fPost’s ed­i­tor-in-chief to run my new ven­ture, Thrive Global,” she said.

Fair­fax Me­dia chair­man Greg Hy­wood be­lieved Huf­fPost Aus­tralia would be part of Fair­fax’s ex­pand­ing port­fo­lio of dig­i­tal as­sets. He said in 2015: “We look for­ward to work­ing closely with the Huff­in­g­ton Post to build the brand and bring its dig­i­tal me­dia in­no­va­tion to Aus­tralia.”

Con­cerns about the Aus­tralian com­pany come a year af­ter the appointment of a new CEO, JJ East­wood, who re­placed the found­ing chief executive, Chris Janz. Janz moved to a newly cre­ated po­si­tion at Fair­fax Me­dia as di­rec­tor of pub­lish­ing in­no­va­tion in the big Fair­fax re­struc­ture 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.

McGuire is an ex­pe­ri­enced ed­i­tor who was hired for her strong dig­i­tal knowl­edge and back­ground in edit­ing com­men­tary and news at News Corp Aus­tralia.

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 as well

as un­knowns.

Tory Maguire, ed­i­tor-in-chief of Huf­fPost Aus­tralia de­clined to com­ment about the fu­ture of the web­site.

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