HuffPost has a new redesign and mission: to reach readers that others have left behind.
The site, formerly known as the Huffington Post — founded by writer, businesswoman and socialite Arianna Huffington — unveiled a new look and abbreviated name Tuesday, with a mission statement for the era of President Trump, fake news and the spectacular failure of mainstream news organizations to predict the winner of the U.S. presidential election. “What would it mean to create a news organization that saw itself not as writing about people who feel left out of the political, economic and social power arrangements, but for them?” asked the site’s editor-in-chief, Lydia Polgreen.
Polgreen said the site will reach out to Americans who feel disenfranchised, both politically and economically, and feel that power rests in the hands of a very small elite. “People who feel they are on the outside looking in at the prosperity created by globalization and technological transformation. That the game is rigged; that the deck is stacked against them; who feel that the house always wins. That definition includes many, many people who voted for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I suspect it also includes the majority of people who voted for Trump.
Polgreen cited a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit Washington think tank, which found that only 18% of people have “a lot” of trust in the national media. “Since 1990, more than a quarter of a million newspaper jobs have vanished, most of them at local publications,” according to Polgreen. And that diminution of the ranks of journalists is itself, in Polgreen’s view, playing a part in the erosion of public trust:
‘It’s hard to see journalists as the enemy of the American people, as Donald Trump put it, if you see them covering your high school football games and town council meetings. But with fewer local reporters on the ground, it’s no surprise that our audience trusts us less.’
Polgreen recalled being raised in less-than-privileged circumstances. “Like so many other industries, journalism has become highly concentrated in affluent urban centers,” the HuffPost editor said. “Yet I don’t buy the caricature that the national press is a bunch of clubby elites — many of us grew up in far-flung places with varied backgrounds. My father is a disabled vet, and my mother is an African immigrant. I went to college in part thanks to a Pell Grant, a government program available to only the poorest students. My grandparents on my father’s side were Goldwater Republicans.”