Arianna Huffington Talks Editorial Strategy and Nap Rooms


NEW YORK - Several weeks after the completion of AOL's $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post, things are going well, Arianna Huffington signaled here on Thursday.

At an advertising conference, the president and editor-in-chief of the new Huffington Post Media Group - basically AOL's editorial arm - talked about editorial strategy for Moviefone and other AOL sites. And she shared with the audience that the company has introduced three nap rooms at its New York headquarters since the acquisition.

While that caused some surprise, she also drew laughs. Asked about the recently launched New York Times online pay wall, she called it complicated and said pay walls only work for specialized content or "weird porn."

Huffington added that her team can only benefit though when others use pay walls. "Ultimately we're betting on content being free," she said. "People are not used to paying for news and opinion."

Appearing at the Ad Age Digital Conference, Huffington said the company is planning to provide locally-focused coverage of the primaries for the 2012 presidential election and plans to invest to make the content of Moviefone "more engaging."

She didn't provide details on the latter, but said hyperlocal network Patch will be key to political coverage, including next year's elections.

"We're launching over 30 new patches in primary states," including two new ones in New York, Huffington said. Each such patch consists of a professional journalist and contributors.

The move is part of three areas that Huffington said the combined AOL-Huffington Post  team is focusing and "doubling down" on.

One is local coverage of major issues, such as the looming government shutdown. “I want to know how the government shutdown will effect people at the local level,” Huffington said.

The second one is "doing well by doing good," or embracing causes. Huffington cited a recent deal with Twitter founder Biz Stone as an example. He will advise AOL on social cause opportunities, because successful companies of the future need to help causes, she argued.

The third focus is on the theme of "unplug and recharge," or the trend - often led by women, she emphasized - to look for new ways to find success with less stress, she said.

This is were the three nap rooms on the fifth floor of the AOL newsroom come in, Huffington explained. Since AOL owns MapQuest, a colleague gave the three rooms the name NapQuest, she told the crowd.

Meanwhile, the company is also looking for growth abroad. The Huffington Post will launch in the U.K. in June with plans for a move into Brazil and other countries later, according to Huffington.

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