Huffington Post, the hugely successful US web newspaper launched today in the UK. The site, owned by AOL, features comment and analysis from paid writers and unpaid contributors, and is based closely on its US model. Very closely.
We at TrustedReviews would be the first to admit that website launches are often painful and seldom go smoothly, and it would be remiss of us to point out broken links and the odd formatting teething problems.
However, we recognise that you have to tailor your content for your audience. In the case of HuffPoUK that has gone largely ignored.
For a start there are the US timestamps on the comments and the stories, so content published at 9 am on on 4 July is billed as 7/4/11 05:00 AM ET.
Then there is the content itself. Flagged at the top of news stories are the stories “GOP Senator: saying Millionaires Should Share Pain Is ‘Rather Pathetic’ “, “Phoenix Dust Storm” and “Nancy Grace Rails Against Casey Anthony Verdict”. If anyone in the UK can tell us what the last story is about, please leave a message in the comments below (no googling).
These stories are either a mistake, or they are forcing a US News agenda on a British audience.
While there is UK-focused content on the front page, Lifestyle and Entertainment sections, the World News pages have a complete US slant on world events with “Driver in fatal Va. Bus crash due in court” and “Two US tourists among the those feared dead”. The world news agenda of the Huffington Post UK further alienates its British readers by covering UK stories of international significance from an American perspective, giving us: “Phone hacking scandal involving kidnapped girl roils Britain.”
We can forgive a publication for being a little self-absorbed in its launch week, however things go a step too far when on the front page of Arianna Huffington's eponymous title, is an article by Tracy Ullman about Arianna Huffington called "Arianna and Me".
Finally, spiritual news from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who gives us pause for thought by asking the Huffington Post’s readers: “Is Godlessness Dooming Britain?”
The Huffington Post is recruiting for unpaid bloggers, and we would invite all readers to apply, if only to fill the UK News Diary page, which although billed with the tagline “Some news is so big it needs its own page”, it only has 10 stories and a total of 78 words. In the meantime, we’d suggest smaller pages.