Looking for a job at a company that encourages creativity and embraces diverse viewpoints? What if I told you that company also encourages its employees to recharge in private nap rooms during working hours? Now add in ping pong tables in common areas, “Pinkberry days” and “sushi nights.” Yes, a workplace like this actually exists, and it’s not Google, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s the AOL Huffington Post Media Group.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, students in the M.S. in Publishing: Digital & Print Media program at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies had the opportunity to visit the AOL/Huffington Post offices in downtown Manhattan and meet with several in-house Huffington Post writers and editors for a brief presentation and a Q&A session. What did we learn? For starters, while working in an office space with cool perks is an attraction for sure, The Huffington Post editorial team takes real pride in crafting interesting and impactful stories for a publication devoted to creativity and innovation. Oh—and they’re also willing to put in long hours.
Maxwell Strachan, Associate Business Editor at The Huffington Post, explained: “At The Huffington Post, it’s not a simple nine-to-five day. I’m always watching the news.” Katla McGlynn, HuffPo’s Deputy Comedy Editor, added: “Working at The Huffington Post is the equivalent of working at a 24-hour news network. When a story breaks, you want to have something up. You want to win Google searches. There’s an urgency to web reporting that doesn’t exist in a traditional news setting. A day of web publishing feels like a week; a week feels like a month.”
But the race to publish quality stories is well worth the stress and time crunch. Especially rewarding is the opportunity to report on news items that don’t receive coverage elsewhere. Eleanor Goldberg, Editor of HuffPo’s “Impact” vertical, expressed it this way: “I’m working at my dream job. I’ve always been interested in covering stories about people making a difference. Here, I get to write about struggling people; people with disabilities. No other outlet focuses on that kind of subject matter.” McGlynn also appreciates the HuffPo’s culture of fostering editorial freedom: “At The Huffington Post, we cover the content we want. There’s no corporate stifling. On the Comedy vertical, we’re free to be silly or serious. Here, you can carve your own path.”
Students also heard from Molly O’Toole, an editor on The Huffington Post’s news desk. Among other responsibilities, those at the news desk edit stories prior to publication and decide what graphics or other multimedia accompany each article. With a background in traditional media outlets, including The Nation and Newsweek, Molly appreciates “working at a company that, like traditional media, focuses on quality, but is less tethered to old habits. We’re an editing desk operating in a new digital world. As capabilities expand, so do expectations. We’re still doing all the same work as those in traditional media, but we’re expected to do it faster. At The Huffington Post, you have to be your own one-man band.”
In the final moments of our Q&A session, Strachan gave us some insights into how the publication’s editorial mission shapes its culture: “What Arianna [Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post] has been trying to pursue is to have something for everyone. From cat videos to articles on middle-class deterioration to a focus on the Latino and African American communities, The Huffington Post offers perspectives on just about everything.” With over 40 verticals and more on the way, I’d say that assessment sounds accurate.
by Diana Carbonell