The Huffington Post has branched out into local editions, and has just launched its fourth site: Los Angeles. Prior rollouts have occurred in Chicago, New York and Denver. Former ABC TV Correspondent Senior Editor Willow Bay is running the LA site, with one additional editorial person. The local advertising strategy is being handled by former Yahoo executive Greg Coleman and CEO Eric Hippeau.
Bay tells us that HuffPo learned a lot from its initial local rollouts. A year ago, during its first rollout in Chicago, for instance, it learned that it was critically important to reach out the community, and touch base with strong local reporters and local bloggers.
Los Angeles may be easier in some regards than other cities. Many of the site’s existing high profile bloggers are based in LA (including Bay and Arianna Huffington herself). But the site expects to go deeper, especially in LA’s vibrant creative community. Bay emphasizes that she isn’t just referring to Hollywood, either. “We want to take advantage of the incredible creative community here,” she says. “Designers, architects, writers, magicians, the fashion industry….”
HuffPo also hopes to encourage next generation reporters, and has been holding discussions with USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism among other institutions. The site has also has formed content partnerships with many local sites, including The LA Times’ LA Now, Los Angeles Magazine, NBCLosangeles, FlavorPill, Magazine C, and Neon Tommy. “In this economy, we are all in this together,” she notes.
“We’re working hard to get the right mix and get it right” Bay adds. She also discounts speculation that Huffington Post’s interest in building out its local portfolio may be waning. In fact, the site continues to have strong local ambitions, she says.