Against a background of cuts and layoffs in the Spanish media, The Huffington Post’s Spanish counterpart El Huffington Post was launched in Madrid yesterday, marking the latest step in the brand’s global expansion.
The launch represents a fusion between traditional and new media brands. As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, El Huffington Post is being produced from the offices of Spain’s leading newspaper El País, and is 50% owned by El País’s parent company Prisa.
The launch, which was originally announced last December, is just part of The Huffington Post’s wider plans to expand around the world. The site has counterparts in the UK and Canada, and in January, the French version of the site Le Huffington Post, was launched in cooperation with Le Monde. The publication is in talks with Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, to launch an Italian version, and president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna Huffington has said that she has plans to launch "many, many more" foreign language sites.
El Huffington Post in particular may be a useful driver for these global ambitions. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Huffington has said that, although the Spanish-language site will mainly focus on Spain, it will also include articles and commentary from Latin American and other Spanish-speaking communities – representing roughly 350 million individuals. The publication already has a foot in the market: Businessweek points out that the US Huffington Post has a section aimed at Spanish speakers in the US. The article adds that Huffington has said she is considering launching new branches of the site in Latin America.
El Huffington Post will be produced by a team of just seven journalists, plus a network of 60 bloggers, writes clasesdeperiodismo.com. Montserrat Domínguez, a former presenter for Cadena SER will direct the team.
The Huffington Post’s model of collaborating with unpaid bloggers to produce much of its content has produced some controversy in Spain. El Confidencial reports on a statement made by the Press Association of Madrid, which read “we maintain that journalists have to be paid for their work.” The Association objects that the Huffington Post “is going to monetize the content, but the journalists won’t see a euro.” The hashtag #gratisnotrabajo (I don’t work for free) is being used to discuss the issue on Twitter.
The launch of El Huffington Post comes at a time of crisis for the Spanish media. The Spanish Federation of Journalists' Associations reported in April that, since the financial crisis began in 2008, 6,234 journalists have lost their jobs, 57 media organisations have been closed and 23 have introduced redundancies. El Huffington Post’s host, El País announced in April announced that it was preparing a round of redundancies that would affect “a very significant number of its workers”. At the beginning of May El Mundo, another large Spanish daily, formalised proceeds to make between 170 and 190 of its staff redundant. The daily Público ceased printing in February, following the bankruptcy of its publisher Mediapubli.