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Digital publishers can help make up for lack of diversity in TV and radio: HuffPost editor-in-chief

Diversity is still a pressing issue facing the media with the problem concentrated in TV and radio, the editor-in-chief of HuffPost has said.

Speaking at today’s Future of Public Interest Journalism Senate Inquiry, Tory Maguire said while new digital players can contribute to more diverse news coverage, there is still a large number of Australians who consume their news through TV and radio which are more traditional in what they cover.

Tory Maguire, Editor-in-chief HuffPost Australia

“As much as we would like to think we are taking over the world that hasn’t happened quite yet, there are still a lot of Australians who consume their news in other ways and the presence of online publishers doesn’t entirely make up for that lack of diversity,” she said.

Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Simon Crerar argued the international player has contributed to the local industry’s news coverage in a positive way, listing the strong presence it has played in reporting on indigenous affairs.

“We are focused on being diverse in our reporting and trying to appeal to voices we feel are underrepresented in traditional media, and we are also trying to reflect that in how we hire,” he said.

“Our newsroom generally is very female focused like our audiences and we are trying to be very diverse across the board and how we are trying to represent Australia both in our staff but also in the reporting and work with do.”

Buzzfeed editor Simon Crerar

Maguire seconded Crerar, outlining what HuffPost’s views are on diversity and how it has been a strong player in tackling the issue.

“We operated, and have always operated under the assumption that we have to meet our audience where they exist and for us our audience exists on our phones and so we don’t really play into the legacy media space much at all,” she said.

HuffPost CEO J.J Eastwood told the inquiry how it can be a challenge to stay afloat in the competitive digital environment.

Eastwood is the CEO at HuffPost Australia

“It’s a challenge to make money in this digital landscape, we coming from a much smaller base, we don’t have a legacy business, we don’t have newspapers support,” he said.

However, the HuffPost boss said for them, revenue comes from being innovative.

“Huffington Post has always has been a digital innovator and took advantage of SEO in the early days and was one of the first publishers globally to take advantage of digital and social media, and that’s something that we’ve adopted locally, we look at the platforms as partnerships in a lot of ways,” he said.

Eastwood agreed that Google and Facebook do take money out of industry’s ecosystem but said “they also drive a lot of traffic to our owned and operated sites”.

HuffPost and Buzzfeed spoke at the inquiry this afternoon after Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood.

He lashed out at the ABC for “undermining” commercial media companies by “aggressively” competing with them for audience and for giving money to Google for SEO marketing.

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