Responding to digital change: Insights from The Huffington Post

To take advantage of the widespread use of social media and smartphones, publishers need to “understand how to get news out to the largest possible audience”.

This is the advice of Jimmy Maymann, president, content and consumer brands at AOL, The Huffington Post’s parent company.

The outlet turned 10 years old in May and revealed its plans yesterday for an ambitious overseas expansion in the next decade, building a global newsroom across 50 new countries.

Maymann served as chief executive of The Huffington Post between 2012 and 2015.

He outlined some of the key changes that have been shaping online news in recent years, and how The Huffington Post has responded to them, speaking at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism memorial lecture on Monday.

News sources

News websites used to be the main destination for readers looking for stories, before they were overtaken by web search and social media in recent years – the latter now accounts for between 30 and 50 per cent of traffic for news sites, said Maymann.

To capitalise on new technology in the newsroom, Huffington Post editors started monitoring performance data in real-time and created dashboards that helped journalists understand what stories did well and test headlines.

For example, a story posted at 5pm would be revised at 9am the next the day – changing the headline and including additional images where appropriate could gather up to 2,600,000 social interactions in 24 hours, he explained.

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