Danielle Belton, who led The Root for the past five years, will take over the top position at HuffPost next month, taking on a role that has been empty for more than a year.
Ms. Belton’s appointment was announced on Wednesday by Jonah Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed, who acquired HuffPost in February.
“I realized that journalism was right for me when I was in J-School in college, and I realized that these are my people. I had the same feeling of speaking to HuffPost employees, ”Ms. Belton said in an interview. “These are people who are really passionate about giving people the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their daily lives. These are people who love to inform the world. “
BuzzFeed began looking for a top new HuffPost editor after the acquisition was announced in November. This was revealed in an internal email that Mr Peretti sent to staff on Wednesday. In the email received from the New York Times, Peretti said BuzzFeed had prioritized finding a HuffPost leader with a long-term vision who could “champion its urgent, compelling and far-reaching journalism.”
Belton, 43, editor-in-chief of The Root, a black news and culture site operated by G / O Media, was offered the position last week.
HuffPost, originally known as The Huffington Post after its founder, Arianna Huffington, has had financial problems in the competitive digital news arena for the past several years. The youngest editor-in-chief, Lydia Polgreen, a former Times editor who had run the site since 2016, traveled to Gimlet Media last March. The role has been left vacant.
BuzzFeed announced in November that it had acquired HuffPost from Verizon Media. On March 9, shortly after the deal was signed, BuzzFeed laid off 47 HuffPost employees and closed the Canadian edition of the publication. Mr Peretti said at the time that the cost cut was needed as HuffPost lost more than $ 20 million in 2020 and forecast it would lose the same amount this year.
The company was criticized for the way it handled the layoff notice. This included that the employees use the password “spr! NgisH3r3 ”, a variation of“ Spring is here ”, to take part in the video conference.
Ms. Belton is now faced with the task of uniting a tumbling newsroom and setting a new course for posting on BuzzFeed. She will report to Mark Schoofs, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, although the two publications will have separate editorial teams and websites.
“I’m very excited about this healthy competition between HuffPost and BuzzFeed,” said Ms. Belton. “I’m excited about the moment HuffPost hits BuzzFeed on a ball.”
Ms. Belton, who describes herself as a “hardcore media nerd,” said her priority was to create a more diverse newsroom. She said the leadership told her it was committed to diversity and that it could hire more workers.
“I firmly believe that all newsrooms should be different and that all newsrooms should reflect the different communities that make up this country,” she said.
Ms. Belton said that “there is simply no good way to fire people” and that she wants to turn to her new team “in a healing way.”
“I’m so excited about the journalism and the journalists who work there every day to make HuffPost an amazing publication,” she said. “So I really want to focus on them and make them feel good about their situation and their place of work and continue to feel the pride they have always felt.”
Ms. Belton was the first editor-in-chief of The Root. She has written and edited for publications such as TheGrio, Essence, The Washington Post, and The Times. She also created the award-winning blog, The Black Snob.
Ms. Belton will begin her new role on April 12th. Her appointment was previously reported by The Daily Beast.