American news aggregation and blogging giant The Huffington Post expanded into Italy this week, with an Italian-language edition featuring custom content.
In a post on the main Huffington Post website, Arianna Huffington wrote that the company’s desire to expand into Italy came from a deep appreciation for Italian culture as well as a desire to chronicle the ongoing effects of the global financial crisis:
“Italy is still feeling the effects of the global economic meltdown, and L’HuffPost will be obsessively reporting the day-to-day human consequences of the crisis and putting flesh and blood on the data.”
“L’Huffington Post,” as the Italian edition will be called, will be utilizing a mix of bloggers, freelance journalists and experienced Italian journalists. The site will be overseen by Lucia Annunziata, formerly of Italian newspapers la Repubblica and Corriere della Sera.
The new site launched with an interview with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Interviews with opposing politicians were included as well, but most of the spotlight was, unsurprisingly, on Mr. Berlusconi’s attempt to brush off longstanding allegations of sexual impropriety as “disinformation and defamation.”
While Huffpo was no doubt ecstatic about scoring an interview with Berlusconi, communications Francesco Siliato of Milan Polytechnic University felt that the news site might have been better off resisting that particular temptation. He told the New York Times:
“It’s an interesting project, but it might be better if they invested more in young journalists rather than old politicians, The power of The Huffington Post in the United States was young people, not politicians.”
Of course, Huffington Post’s expansion into Italy is about more than good intentions and a love of la dolce vita. There’s also ad dollars at stake. As Massimo Ghedini, chief of ad sales at the Huffington Post’s Italian partner, the Expresso Group, explained to the New York Times:
“Italian advertisers are always looking for two things: results, in terms of a return on their investment, and positioning. The Huffington Post gives them both. It brings readers into the conversation, and the Italian edition will spread knowledge of Italian style around the world.”