Open Letter: The HuffPost South Africa

I Admired The Huffington Post:

When I was in high school (Alberton High), stories around who and what the original American based Huffington Post were scarce. Well, when I was at high school, the internet was scarce.

For those of you who don’t know, the Huffington Post / HuffPost is an American Politically Liberal news blog, founded by Arianna Huffington in 2005.

I think the best time for me and most people my age was when we needed the internet in order to function in our studies and jobs. It was the early days, and I began learning more about the world at large and the entrepreneurs in it.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington, all were on my big list (Steve Jobs never came up). Each for different reasons though.

  • Richard Branson taught me a lot about the manner in which your business should run; focusing on meaningful business, creativity, rebelliousness and doing something different.
  • Bill Gates taught me to focus on the product and penetrating the top level markets to create profit, he also taught me about building a business into a money engine to be used to inflict change in the world.
  • Finally, dear Arianna Huffington; she was not always on my list, but as I began to create my own blog (the old, I began to learn about her and how she shuttered an industry with what was, when she began, a blog: The Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post, for me was more than a blog turned business turned media empire, and it was that too, but more, it made me realise, that I could do this, I could create something that matters, something that can be a success.

It’s an example I use when my friends ask me if: “Do you think this thing is worth it”, my answer was always: “Well, yes, we’ve just gotta keep at it, look at the Huffington Post or MIC! We can do it too!”.

The HuffPost South Africa:

Some time ago, we all heard the news that The Huffington Post would be opening up a South Africa division. I for one was excited.

The entrepreneurial history and story writing pedigree of one of my most admired people (Arianna), was coming to my home and we’d get all the same top end, quality content and stories that we’ve loved and glimpsed from the US host.

I admit, since the creation of the South African division, I’ve only had time to jump in and out of their content (Just been so busy), but when I did, it was always a well written and crafted piece of valuable and quality content.

Then came the dank times

With the recent swirl of bad press that HuffPost South Africa has gone through in recent weeks, everything from being branded fake news, to poking fun of social media discussions or arguments to even having their editor drop out.  I thought I should remind both us, the readers as well as HuffPost South Africa, what they actually mean.

Setting the Example:

Though, I feel that as a leader this is probably the worst time to leave your publication, I also understand why Verashni Pillay did.

I ask myself in this case, would Arianna have let HuffPost South Africa devolve into a mish mash of pop cultural puff pieces (The Kardashians, seriously) and controversial false news, would she have owned a fault in her business and pushed on through as a leader?

It’s simply not good enough to publish an apology and move on. Change needs to be seen.

I’m not sure what she may have done, but what I am sure about is that if publications/blogs like The HuffPost South Africa do not focus on leading our industry, then what hope do the smaller blogs have of developing their own businesses.

One of two things are going to happen, either, small guys like Milled, will never rise above “basic blog status”, and never make sustainable income because of the broken trust between brands and media, or, leaders like The HuffPost South Africa will die off, leaving little guys like Milled and our like to fill the void.

What ever the future holds, The HuffPost South Africa and other large online publications of the same type, need to remember who they are and what they represent. Remembering that they do not exist on an island and what happens to one, effects us all.

If you’re going to be leaders, then lead, set the example, because you are already one.

Like my high school self, there is a future editor busy failing english class that wants to represent HuffPost one day, maybe start their own publication. You represent them too, their dreams, their ambitions.

Don’t let those dreams die.

I do though want to hear your thoughts on the current state of the online news and blog industry in South Africa, let me know in the comments down below: 

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