When The Huffington Post started in the US 14 years ago, its blogging-for-all platform was a genuine novelty. At that time, which now seems almost sepia-tinted, there was no Medium for self-publishing, no Twitter for amplification, and Facebook looked like the exciting future, and not the jaded behemoth we seem lumbered with today.
As the digital landscape shifts, so must our approach to opinion and news delivery. With that in mind, we’ve taken the decision to close HuffPost UK Blogs this week, and those who have written for us have been told.
The Opinion pages will be driving the debate in the key topics of the news agenda. As ever, we’ll be looking to find new voices to break out of the media echo chamber – those who aren’t on the treadmill of the commentariat and who can offer new, personal and accessible thoughts. We’ll be concentrating on finding the voices of those who have opinions through experience, rather than because it’s their profession.
Alongside that, we’re launching HuffPost Personal – original, first-person pieces which will uncover singular stories to allow us to see ourselves through the lives of others. It’ll cover untold numbers of issues, centreing on health, relationships, identity, work, and more. We’re just looking for that human connection, whether written by the person themselves or “as told to” one of our journalists.
Blogs was a pioneering platform in democratising online commentary. It gave voice to writers who seized that opportunity to tell stories which were personal and relatable, and reflected issues that affect huge numbers of us in different ways. It’s unfair to draw out favourites, but it’s important to mark the significant contribution the section made.
Charlotte Kitley blogged on having stage IV bowel cancer in a piece published after she died in September 2014. The piece is an open letter to her kids with her last wishes to them and remains just as moving now as it did then.
This blog by migrants’ rights campaigner Satbir Singh on how the Home Office was keeping him and his wife apart. It went viral and led to his case being resolved and the family being reunited for Christmas 2017.
A member of the HuffPost family, Poorna Bell, wrote about her husband’s suicide and sideswiped those who’d never met her just as much as those who knew her.
We began editorial strands too, such as Life Less Ordinary, which told ordinary people’s extraordinary stories and inspired readers with lessons of perseverance and determination, while The Case I Can’t Forget shone a light on the struggles of frontline services and the incredible people who run it.
So, if it’s all so special, why shut it down? For one thing, the novelty has gone (for you as much as for us) and there are, frankly, easier ways for you to get published. And in the lifetime of HuffPost (née Huffington Post), the brand has changed, We’ve become a stronger media voice and publishing thousands of blogs has been a distraction from the delivery of impactful, targeted investigations, explainers, breaking news and lifestyle and entertainment journalism.
As ever, we’re looking to broaden the diversity of the writers and the topics covered by the media and launching Opinion and Personal will be a significant part of our contribution to that. So, please, read it, share it, be a part of it.
And let us know what you think.