ijf interview of arianna huffington

Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, jetted in to Italy on 11 October 2011 and jetted out again the next day. She was on the second leg of her whistle-stop tour of Europe; Paris, Milan, Istanbul, Madrid, 4 cities in 5 days, plenty to talk about in each. An Italian version of The Huffington Post will be launched in 2012. Arianna Huffington gave this interview to the International Journalism Festival.

Chris Potter: For The Huffington Post in Italy, do you already have a media partner in mind? If so, who?
Arianna Huffington: I recently visited Milan to meet with potential partners for next year’s launch, but there’s no decision yet.

CP: For The Huffington Post in Italy, will you pay your bloggers? If not, do you think this might result in journalism of less incisiveness than with a paid team of bloggers?
AH: The Huffington Post is both a journalistic enterprise and a blogging platform. We do pay our full-time writers, along with our full-time editors and all full-time staff. Our bloggers come from all walks of life — entertainers, officeholders, students, parents, activists — and not only can they write on anything they want, but they can write as frequently — or infrequently — as they want. Ultimately, people blog on HuffPost for the same reasons they go on TV: because they are passionate about their ideas, their books, and their movies, and want to be heard by the largest possible audience, and understand the value that that kind of visibility can bring. And given that there is no shortage in Italy of people with things to say, or problems that need real discussion, we think our blog will be as incisive as it is for all of our other editions.

CP: You will be in Italy this week, have you any comments on the protest in Rome (held on 12 October 2011 ed.) organised by the FNSI (Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana) about the proposed new media law currently being debated in Parliament, which critics claim would significantly reduce press freedom in Italy.
AH: There’s no underestimating the importance of press freedom — in Italy, in the US, and in all parts of the world. Our world is facing so many crises, and while our media culture has often come up short, providing too many autopsies of what went wrong and not enough biopsies of what was about to go wrong, the answer is not to reduce press freedoms. At a time when Western democracies are facing many structural challenges, it would be a mistake to deliberately take any steps to increase those challenges by limiting the press. So the explosion of new media is something to be celebrated. It’s my hope for Italy that journalists, using the powerful tools of new media combined with the best tenets of traditional journalism, will retain the freedom to obsessively follow a story, chomp down hard and refuse to let go.