03 August 2015
by Max Mason
Huffington Post Australia to launch on August 19
The Huffington Post is set to launch in Australia on August 19 led by former News Corp editor and journalist Tory Maguire as its launch editor-in-chief.
HuffPost Australia, a joint venture between The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media, publisher of The Australian Financial Review, will have 30 staff based in offices in Sydney's Circular Quay with all staff expected to produce and write stories.
If anyone can make it work, then it's Tory.
David Penberthy, News Corp columnist
The US player joins other international news organisations that have recently entered the Australian market, including The Guardian, The Daily Mail and BuzzFeed.
Some high-profile hires that have already been announced include political editor Karen Barlow, formerly ABC and SBS, and lifestyle editor Leigh Campbell from Bauer Media.
Ms Maguire started her career as a copy kid at The Daily Telegraph and rose through the ranks, holding a number of positions including national opinion editor for News Corp and editor for News Corp's opinion site The Punch.
With more than 15 years at News Corp, Ms Maguire said while she loved her latest role at the publisher leading a project on the centenary of World War I, the chance to launch The Huffington Post in Australia was too much to resist.
"I keep using the word exciting over and over, but it genuinely is because the Huffington Post brand is so universal, it's so respected and people's reaction to it is incredibly positive," she said in her first interview since taking the role.
Of the 30 staff that will be working in HuffPost's offices, a small number will be reporting to New York, however the majority will be working on the local website, writing and producing Australian content.
HuffPost Australia will draw on content from a network of 900 journalists around the world.
Ms Maguire said this vast network will allow the local journalists to focus on content that is unique and appealing to Australians. The local publication is open to content-sharing arrangements but so far has no plans to do this.
Room for more players
Asked if she thought that HuffPost Australia would cannibalise Fairfax's readers, Ms Maguire said she didn't think so and there was room for more players.
"The way people consume their news media has changed enormously. I think this idea that there is a cap on the number of outlets that you can have in a particular market is very outdated."
News Corp columnist and FIVEaa broadcaster David Penberthy, a former colleague of Ms Maguire, said "Tors" was one of the best journalists he had worked with, with an innate sense of what interests mass audiences.
"I worked with her really closely when I was editing the Daily Telegraph. As the editor you can often get surrounded by yes men. One of the best things about Tors was that she was always really terrifically blunt in saying 'I reckon that's a good idea, I reckon that's a bad idea'," Mr Penberthy said.
Mr Penberthy said the biggest challenge for HuffPost Australia will be making it feel like a local website.
"But, if anyone can make it work, then it's Tory. I'm sure that will be her first reservation about the site and that she's going to grab it with both hands and say 'I'm running it locally, I'm not purposing something from overseas'," he said.
"It's a good thing. Competition is good and the more websites there are, the more people have to think creatively because the cool thing about online is that you've got about four seconds to get someone's attention and if you're dull or slow, you die."
BWB Editor: Providing the political editorial remains balanced, the Huff Post will be a breath of fresh air for online readers.