HuffPost, the liberal news platform owned by Verizon Media, has closed its blogging platform in the UK.
The move is a landmark shift for an online publisher that has built its brand on harnessing user-generated content as the internet gained popularity at the turn of the century.
Instead, it has launched two new sections: HuffPost Opinion, a traditional platform for opinion pieces curated by an editor; and HuffPost Personal, a collection of first-person pieces based on singular issues either written by that person or by journalists.
"The biggest difference in these new sections is that they will be built, in the majority of cases, by commission, rather than submission," HuffPost UK’s editor-in-chief, Jimmy Leach, wrote yesterday.
Leach also pointed out how the digital landscape has changed markedly from when Arianna Huffington launched The Huffington Post 14 years ago as a "blogging-for-all platform". Today, he said, people can self-publish on Medium and amplify their content on Twitter.
Explaining the decision to close the blogs platform, Leach added: "For one thing, the novelty has gone (for you as much as for us) and there are, frankly, easier ways for you to get published. And in the lifetime of HuffPost (née Huffington Post), the brand has changed, We’ve become a stronger media voice and publishing thousands of blogs has been a distraction from the delivery of impactful, targeted investigations, explainers, breaking news and lifestyle and entertainment journalism."
The decision comes more than a year after HuffPost halted its unpaid contributors programme in order to improve editorial quality. The blogger network had grown to 100,000 contributers and had been criticised for publishing dangerous conspiracy theories about child vaccinations written by celebrities.
AOL bought The Huffington Post in 2011 and the brand is now owned by Verizon’s Verizon Media division. Huffington left the brand in 2016 and the business rebranded to HuffPost a year later.
Verizon Media chief executive Guru Gowrappan told Campaign last month that the company is differentiating itself by offering online ads around premium content by its publisher brands, as opposed to the user-generated content of social media.