The $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post by AOL has allowed the publication to move into the international market. Arianna Huffington announced plans to expand and launch a UK edition of the site this summer, reported the Guardian.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Huffington spoke about their intentions at the Guardian Media Summit. "Both companies may be big in the US, but the US only represents 4% of the world's population," said Armstrong.
"The Huffington Post is a very strong global brand on the internet. It is huge in America, it has one million users in the UK, one million users in Canada. We are looking at a brand that is going to explode from a brand and usage standpoint," said Huffington.
Press Gazette reported that a Canadian edition of the site "is also in the pipeline." According to the Financial Times, Huffington has plans to launch French and Brazilian sites in the future. German magazine Focus also translates some stories in German.
The UK edition will have a localized homepage with some British content, but will also link to the regular site. An AOL spokesperson pointed out that the 100 UK-based journalists AOL hired last year could be added to the team- which isn't to say Huffington won't be hiring on British soil. The Huffington Post UK will stick to the US model. There will be a core team of paid writers and editors with featured unpaid blogs.
Huffington's adherence to not paying its bloggers- especially in light of the $315 million merger- has continued to garner criticism. While some Huffington bloggers have defended their choices, others have expressed their displeasure. The Newspaper Guild called for a strike against the company, releasing a statement last week. Yesterday, they sent an open letter to Huffington, asking her to meet with them to discuss the future of journalism. Quoted in the letter was Huffington spokesman Mario Ruiz's statement: "We stand squarely behind The Newspaper Guild's mission of ensuring that media professionals receive fair compensation."
The anger has spread to Facebook as well. Members of the group "Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?" have been responding to the announcement of the UK paper, one user cattily saying, "Great news for any writers in Great Britain looking for a free gig."