It's Day One For Me As The New Bloke In Charge Of HuffPost UK – And We Have Big Ambitions

In a crowded space, it's going to be my job as editor-in-chief to make sure everyone knows what we stand for

It’s not often you get the keys to as big and exciting a project as this, but this morning here I am… the new bloke who’s the editor-in-chief at HuffPost UK.

I’m basking in my good fortune, I’ve baggsed a desk near the window, worked out where the coffee is and it’s high time to work out what I’ll actually do all day.

I’ve spent the weeks in the run up to Day One meeting as many members of the team as I can. And I’m in luck. I’ve got myself a classy bunch of people here. Talented and committed: I owe a great deal to my predecessor, Polly Curtis, for the clever recruitment of a cadre of excellent journalists, who joined an already high quality team to make a formidable unit breaking big and important news and politics stories while delivering a tonne of engaging entertainment and lifestyle content. Light and shade delivered with equal élan.

So, all I’ve got to do is sit back and watch it all work.

Sadly, not quite. Like everyone in the news/content business, we’ve got to compete fiercely for attention. In a crowded space, we’ve got to make sure that everyone knows what HuffPost is for. When there’s bigger (but not better) news organisations out there, what purpose do we serve? In what ways are we telling audiences different things about stories, or, indeed, telling different stories altogether?

We have carved out a space in the news market – one which aims to tell you things you don’t, but should, know. In an era which political historians will dub ‘bonkers’, there is too much of importance that doesn’t get reported or explained. There is no better guide to the machinations of Westminster than Paul Waugh, and alongside that exemplary coverage we can show what is being swept under the convenient carpet of Brexit, as Jess Brammar drives from her new role as executive editor. Our coverage of issues like austerity shows that we are firmly rooted in the world as our readers see it. We are passionate about hearing from voices outside of Westminster and outside of London. We need to understand the impact this makes on ‘ordinary’ lives, to reach the people our global editor-in-chief, Lydia Polgreen, calls the ‘un-newsed’.

And at the same time, we need to reflect that most people are concerned about more important things – we’re living in a golden age of television, and audiences love how we’ve leaned-in to covering their favourite shows, from Love Island to Fleabag. Our consumer journalism, coverage of mental health or parenting, does what all the best lifestyle journalism should do: help our readers to live as successfully and enjoyably as they can. All the things that fill our lives outside of the Big Decisions. We have to show that we get it – that we know you need to know what consumer decisions to make and what TV is worth watching. And that none of those are guilty pleasures, they are just pleasures.

So this gig is a constant rebalancing act – making sure we strive for the editorial standards every day, driving the HuffPost profile and shouting about the great journalism we’re doing, checking what audiences, and the data, say is working or not. And keeping those revenues healthy – proving that there is a sustainable model for the highest quality, most accessible online journalism. It’s not a simple job and it’s made less so by the fact that we have big ambitions. We want to be a hugely important brand in people’s lives.

And I’m confident we’ll get there – just watch us.

Jimmy Leach is editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK


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