The Huffington Post appears to be delaying its Australian launch to instead focus on its moves into Japan and Brazil.
The online publisher has told Encore it will still launch in Australia, despite remaining largely silent on the issue in recent months, but has declined to comment on when the launch will be.
“We are still planning to launch in Australia, but are currently focusing on launching The Huffington Post in Japan and Brazil,” a spokeswoman for the Huffington Post told Mumbrella.
Mid last year a senior Huffpo executive told The Australian that the launch would be in the second quarter of 2013.
“Second quarter in 2013 is the plan… When we start the conversation about when we launch an edition in the local market it can take between six and nine months,” senior vice-president and head of international at AOL Huffington Post Media Group Jimmy Maymann told the newspaper in July. The Huffington Post announced the moves into Brazil and Japan in December confirming that it would partner with well-known Japanese publisher, Asahi Shimbun, in what is the website’s first Asian effort.
It has also partnered with newspapers Le Monde in France and La Repubblica in Italy.
In a video interview two weeks ago on the Huffington Post website, Maymann outlined the online publisher’s current global expansion approach. “One thing we try do when we go with the local editions, even though it’s very difficult – perhaps even impossible – is to find a local Arianna,” he said, in reference to the website’s founder Arianna Huffington.
“What we realised when we did it in Canada and the UK is that when you don’t have that spokesperson or personality then it’s very difficult to attract the right kind of blogging community.”
The launch of an Australian edition has been mooted since 2011. Mumbrella understands key people within the Australian media were approached by the company two years ago, with names such as former smh.com.au online editor Stephanie Raethel touted. It appears little has eventuated. The Huffington Post currently has versions in the US, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain and Italy.
The apparent stalling of the Huffington Post’s Australia launch plan comes as The Guardian newspaper moves forward with its Australian launch, under the direction of deputy editor Katharine Viner.
A fortnight ago the newspaper poached senior Fairfax reporters Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy and is believed to be in discussions with former Fairfax columnist and author David Marr.
In recent weeks rumours have been circulating about the number of journalists being hired by the British newspaper to work on its Australian operation with various numbers including eight, 15 to 20 and even as many 40 being suggested.
The Guardian’s American operation employs around 50 staff. The Guardian declined to comment on the speculation.
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