Huffington Post’s Confino promises sharp uptick in social, environmental coverage

Huffington Post’s Confino promises sharp uptick in social, environmental coverage

Leaning heavily on video and guided by metrics showing readers crave stories about solutions to environmental and social problems, a senior Huffington Post editor says coverage in the post-Ariana era will emphasize “positive journalism”

Jo Confino, speaking to CSR and sustainability communicators during a 3BL Media webinar, said the highly trafficked news site is determined to produce a flood of content and partner with activist organizations to drive change in the areas it deems important.

“The thing about the Huff Post which I love, after 23 years at the Guardian, is that it’s extremely experimental,” said Confino, executive editor of Impact & Innovation and editorial director of What's Working. 

Over the past two months, Confino’s team wrote 180 articles and produced 20 videos on food waste. Wednesday marked the start of a new focus on “fast fashion.” Queued up for coverage in coming months: e-waste, packaging waste and water waste. The editorial team is also planning to shine a light on endangered species.

“Throughout the content of the Huff Post, there’s this wish to sort of be a proactive force for change and to really have a voice, and I think that’s something we are really going to double down on post Ariana’s departure, rather than be all things to all people,” Confino said, adding that the search for a new editor to replace Ariana Huffington is under way.

Confino discouraged communications pros from pitching his team on self-serving topics, but wanted to hear about solutions to vexing global problems.

“Positive journalism is the focus,” he said, contrasting the role of his reporters to that of a physician. “If you’ve got cancer and you go to the doctor, you don’t want the doctor to say, ‘Oh, you’ve got cancer, goodbye,’ because you’re going to go away really depressed and probably go into denial.  And you don’t want the doctor to come in and say, ‘Oh, everything’s fine -- just carry on, everything’s good,’ because that is just not the truth.  What you want is the doctor to sit you down and say, ‘Look, I need to tell you really honestly you’ve got cancer and here’s what you can do about it.’” 

When asked to share his favorite story since joining the Huffington Post, Confino pointed to a video interview he conducted during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with Christiana Figueres, the architect of the historic Paris climate negotiations. Here’s a link to the post, which has garnered 26,000 views.

“She and I share the same Zen master,” Confino said. “I love that story because it tells a much more human story.”