HuffPost Australia staff fear for future amid talks with partner Fairfax
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
Tory Maguire, editor-in-chief of HuffPost Australia declined to comment about the future of the website.