D7: The HuffPo’s and WaPo’s Different Takes on Local News

Two very different takes on local news were in evidence at The WSJ’s D7 conference in Carlsbad, California, today, as Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Katharine Weymouth of The Washington Post were interviewed by former Post reporter Kara Swisher about their respective directions.

Since the November election, Huffington noted that the Huffington Post has gone deep into vertical coverage, and now only gets 50 percent of its usage from political news. One of those vertical areas, of course, is the new local Web site in Chicago, which will be joined next week by a New York City site.

The local sites are run with a small skeleton crew and rely on local blogs and media outlets for much of their coverage. Huffington hopes to firm up some formal partnerships with the sites in the future, specifically citing the nonprofit Voice of San Diego as the kind of site to which a HuffPo partnership could bring revenues and traffic.

She also expects to ramp up more unique coverage. There were vague indications that a good portion of the $25 million Huffington has raised from venture capital will be used to expand the local sites and for investigative journalism.

Weymouth, who is the niece of Donald Graham and became publisher last year, said she is working to “reorient The Washington Post for the Internet Age” by expanding online video and other features.

She also noted that the paper’s readership has been greatly extended by the Web, with 10 million unique visitors a month. The paper’s daily circulation is less than a million. But 90 percent of the Web traffic is from out of town.

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