As a freelance writer, I’ve always found the Huffington Post to be an ephemeral online news entity—a collection of editors’ names appended with @ signs, to whom you pitch and interact with almost entirely through digital communications. So it was an incredible and illuminating experience to actually be able to visit and intern at the Huffington Post newsroom in downtown Manhattan.
Jahnabi Barooah ’11, Assistant Editor of the Religion section for Huffington Post, introduced me to her team, which included former Princeton affiliates like Senior Religion Editor Paul Raushenbush. In fact, Huffington Post was laden with Princeton alums in various editorial departments—Tech, Business, Women—and the Chief of Staff, Koda Wang, whom I met on my first day.
The newsroom, which Huffington Post got from AOL after their merger, is an expansive maze of people behind desks and screens—all tuned to news channels, news sites, and content-producing web media. Brightly lit but generally mellow, the Huffington Post newsroom is decidedly young, looking more like the office of a start-up business than a traditional, New York Times newsroom.
I was able to meet editors in the flesh for whom I’ve written for in my past blogging experience, which was great to finally be able to put a face to an email address. Moreover, I learned the responsibilities of working in an editor’s position at Huffington Post, something that I’ve never experienced.
A lot of being an editor is generating and managing content and web media. In the new age of information consumption, HuffPo editors have to be constantly checking and updating Facebook, Twitter, and their own comments sections on the articles on their site. They roundtable every Friday to discuss upcoming news stories, trends, and how their specific sections are doing.
My first day projects included aggregating some information on the history of religious symbols, as well as learning more about the different roles of the Huffington Post staff. Perhaps the highlight was talking with Koda, Arianna Huffington’s right-hand man, whose role as Chief of Staff allowed me to learn HuffPo’s visions for expansion and evolution. In an age where old, print media and payment structures are struggling, Huffington Post is attempting to continue its growth across countries and the worldwide web.
On Day 2, I learned more about Huffington Post’s foray into streaming broadcast, HuffPost Live. Looking much more like CNN studio, HuffPost Live’s broadcast room is a novel attempt to incorporate new media and traditional televised news. With cameras, sets, anchors, and producers, HuffPost Live was an impressive addition to the written newsroom.
I finished off the day by participating in HuffPo Religion’s Twitter chats on scripture. While I wasn’t an expert in the subject matter at hand (Torah versions of the Ten Commandments), I was fascinated to see the Twitter chat platform and learn how to manage a live chat via the social network filled with #hashtags, re-tweets, and 140-character limits.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Jahnabi, who was flexible and extremely helpful in making my Princeternship a worthwhile time. As someone who is interested in writing and journalism in my future career, this was an important centering experience for me to really learn what my values as a journalist and news reporter are and what kind of future publications would exist for me to work with. And to cap off my experience at Huffington Post, I ran into Arianna herself as she worked in her fishbowl-like office and she greeted me with a smile and a hello!