Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington join forces
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The Huffington Post revealed two big pieces of news today.
So as not to bury the lede, one is that the site has struck a partnership with the Oprah Winfrey Network.
We'll get back to that in a second. But first, the drier of the two announcements: The Huffington Post has named its first-ever publisher.
The job goes to Janet Balis, who's moving over from an executive sales position at Huffington Post's parent company, AOL, to "oversee the development of partnerships and strategies," according to a news release.
The site has also hired an MSNBC Interactive veteran, Moritz Loew, as a sales specialist and senior vice president "responsible for generating revenue across the Huffington Post Media Group’s wide array of sites."
“Both Moritz and Janet, who is already deeply familiar with HuffPost from her time at AOL, have deep roots in digital media, with track records of innovative thinking and leadership that will make them invaluable members of the HuffPost team,” said Arianna Huffington in a statement.
Balis and Loew join The Huffington Post as Huffington's role within AOL has been scaled back to focus on her flagship brand and the international off-shoots she's developed. More of those are expected to crop up in the coming months, and the site is also preparing to launch an ambitious video offering called HuffPost Live. It also introduced an iPad magazine last month.
And on the AOL side, as Jason Del Rey writes in Ad Age, the appointments reflect AOL C.E.O. Tim Armstrong's plan "to restructure the company in a way that made individual content brands within the AOL portfolio more responsible for their businesses."
Now back to the juicier news: Joining HuffPost's 5,000 or so verticals come August will be an Oprah Winfrey section featuring "content created and curated by writers and producers from OWN and Oprah.com specifically for The Huffington Post," according to a press release. "Additionally, the section will call upon The Huffington Post's vast network of bloggers and community to have a conversation around Oprah.com content."
The deal marries two female power brands and creates an opportunity for one of them to try and build up its audience. Following Winfrey's succcessful career as a syndicated talk show host, her OWN venture has been struggling to attract viewers. Giving it a platform on HuffPost, which had about 37 million unique U.S. visitors in April, according to comScore, is one way to maybe add some eyeballs.
At the same time, Oprah brings to The Huffington Post yet another slice of the celebrity cachet that has helped make it a titan.
"We are thrilled to partner with Oprah Winfrey and OWN," said Huffington in another prepared statement. "Oprah was about engagement and authenticity long before engagement and authenticity ruled the web. And since those qualities are deeply embedded in the DNA of both OWN and HuffPost, I’m delighted that we’ll be working together to enlarge the conversation on living our best lives, as Oprah puts it, just as we launch our GPS for the Soul app.”
In other news...
A "senior Fox News executive" walked back Roger Ailes' New York Times slam. [The Daily Beast]
Layoffs and restructuring at Patch. [The Wall Street Journal]
A new low at CNN. [Deadline]
More trouble for Colin Myler and Les Hinton in the phone-hacking scandal. [The Huffington Post U.K.]
Monetizing comments at Gawker. [Reuters/Felix Salmon]
Growing pains at Conde Nast Entertainment Group. [W.W.D.]
Elsewhere at Conde, M Magazine is making a comeback; will Lucky go digital only? [The New York Post]
More on the Opera News saga. [The Atlantic Wire]
Peter Osnos praises ProPublica. [The Atlantic]
A shift to content under Yahoo's interim C.E.O. [Reuters]