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HuffPost names Danielle Belton of The Root as its new editor in chief


HuffPost has finally found its new editor in chief. Danielle Belton, the editor in chief of The Root, will take the helm of the publication that is now owned by BuzzFeed and which faced significant layoffs earlier this month.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced the news in an email to staff on Wednesday.

“When I announced we were acquiring HuffPost in November, we began a robust and expansive search for an Editor-in-Chief to lead the newsroom and reinforce its standing as a top digital destination,” Peretti wrote. “Our priorities were to find a leader who had a clear and formidable long-term version for HuffPost, and would champion its urgent, compelling, and far-reaching journalism.”

Belton will be HuffPost’s third editor in chief since its founding in 2005. The publication’s co-founder and namesake Arianna Huffington served as editor in chief until she left in 2016. She was replaced by Lydia Polgreen, who left in March 2020 to join Gimlet Media.

“I am so excited to be joining HuffPost, a powerful and ambitious newsroom that aims to help its tens of millions of monthly readers understand and navigate the complexities of the world around them,” Belton said in a statement. “HuffPost is recognized for its compelling and urgent journalism and I look forward to helping shape its formidable future and taking its impact to new heights.”

Belton, who starts on April 12, will be taking charge after an exceptionally tumultuous period at HuffPost. Peretti made deep cuts to HuffPost’s staff earlier this month, just three weeks after it officially merged with BuzzFeed. Peretti, who helped found HuffPost, announced that 47 of the 190 HuffPost employees in the US would be laid off. BuzzFeed also shut down HuffPost Canada and Quebec, affecting 23 employees. Peretti attributed the layoffs to cutting costs, adding that HuffPost’s losses exceeded $20 million last year. Peretti said his goal is for HuffPost “to break even” this year.

The Daily Beast first reported the news of Belton’s hire.

Belton will report to Mark Schoofs, editor in chief of BuzzFeed News. She will be based in New York.

Belton, a Black woman, has had a long and impressive tenure in media. She launched her own blog, The Black Snob, in 2007 and wrote for theGrio, Essence, The Washington Post and The New York Times. In 2015, Belton joined The Root, a Black news and culture site. She worked as its youngest managing editor and was later promoted to its first editor in chief.

The Root was acquired by Univision in May 2015 and was later folded into Gizmodo Media Group, which included the family of sites under Gawker Media. Univision sold Gizmodo Media Group in April 2019 to private equity company Great Hill Partners, which renamed it G/O Media. Since that sale, nearly all of the top leadership at those sites have left.

HuffPost’s newsroom is not only reeling from recent layoffs but has been dealing with its own longstanding diversity issues. A push for newsroom diversity was one of the reasons HuffPost unionized in 2015. Last year, HuffPost staffers told CNN Business that their previous owner, Verizon Media Group, did not do enough to improve diversity in the newsroom and that they hoped Peretti would do more.

Peretti said in his memo on Wednesday that he is committed to “immediately increasing the representation of Black and Latinx employees in the HuffPost newsroom during our journey to profitability, and under her leadership we will pursue this from Day 1 to ensure we are representing and reaching the most diverse audience.

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