7:11 am Dec. 12, 20119
The Huffington Post has just signed a deal with Spanish newspaper El Pais to produce a new version of the caffeinated news brand Arianna Huffington has made famous in the United States.
And with a name like Huffington, the only thing that needs tweaking is the article.
El Huffington Post, as it will be called, will carve out a nook in the Madrid headquarters of the top-selling Spanish daily to house the website's local team.
"It's going to be very, very rooted in Spanish culture and politics, but with The Huffington Post template of curation, original reporting and blogging," Huffington said in an interview with Capital.
The deal closed on Thursday.
"I'm really excited about this partnering model," said Huffington, who also recently signed off on a French site (Le Huffington Post), with the Paris-based paper Le Monde. "We are starting with great brands and we're able to really work with their teams and their knowledge of the local journalistic scene and their access."
These cross-continent collaborations are new territory for The Huffington Post, whose relationship with analogous U.S. news titles has been contentious. No longer is the many-verticaled web titan merely a scraper that feeds on the hard work of legacy news outlets. But nor are legacy news outlets entirely simpatico with the aggregation practices that still account for a significant slice of HuffPo's traffic. It would be hard to imagine The Huffington Post shacking up with, say, The New York Times. But Huffington's brand is having a good road show.
Abroad, The Huffington Post benefits from its partners' infrastructure, credibility and resources; their partners in turn benefit from HuffPo's digital savvy and from having access to the prodigious volume of content it is known to churn out on a daily basis.
No equity has changed hands in the deal. Rather, Huffington called it a "very simple partnership" in which newly formed, jointly held entities "share expenses, risk and profits."
"For them," she said, "it's going to be like a laboratory where they can see how certain things work and decide what they want to take and use on their own website. For example, we were talking to the editor of El Pais as we were showing them what we're planning to do, and he joked that for them to have a splash [headline] like The Huffington Post has many times a day, it would have to be the Third World War. But this is part of the HuffPost way, where we are basically saying, 'This is what we think is the most important story of the hour.' So you know, things like that—the way we deal with comments, with engagement."
Huffington is lining up a New York-based team of part-time translators who can quickly convert copy to English from Spanish, French, or whatever other languages Huffington Post stories eventually come in. (She's also eyeing sites in Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey and Brazil.)
"There will be content-sharing across borders," she said.
For now, the international operations, which have already been launched in England and Canada, look much like the 6-and-a-half-year-old Huffington Post flagship did in its infancy, said Huffington—nimble teams of fewer than 10 full-time employees that will scale as they become profitable. (The Huffington Post's masthead has ballooned to around 300 since the site's marriage to AOL last spring.)
But Huffington has been able to expand her stable over the past 10 months at a rate that would have seemed implausible just a year ago. The international expansion was always in the cards, she said, but it wouldn't have gotten rolling as quickly or as rapidly as it has if AOL didn't come knocking with a whopping $315 million from its coffers.
"We have this great infrastructure and the ability to move forward very quickly with multiple launches at a time," she said. "The way we would have done it would have had to be sequential—launching one and seeing how goes."
The new publication will have a broad focus.
"Spain just had an election," said Huffington, "so what's going to be happening with the new government?" Also: "The state of the Spanish economy and how that's going to affect Europe and the global economy."
Additionally, the two new bedfellows "will look at what we can do in Latin America and all Spanish-speaking countries," said Huffington. "El Pais has huge credibility across the Spanish-speaking world, so we're looking at what we can do together beyond Spain."
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