After making the announcement earlier this year, the German-language edition of the Huffington Post went live on Thursday, making it the eighth foreign edition of the popular US online news website. The site is hoping that its brand is powerful enough to disrupt the online news scene in Germany, and with 60 German newspapers introducing paywalls by the end of this year, the Huffington Post may have launched just in time to do that.
Unlike traditional news organizations, the Huffington Post has found success in a model where the creation of news content is more open. In an interview with DW, Oliver Eckert of the Tomorrow Focus Media, the publisher of the German-language edition, expressed that the site “offers news and stories from our authors on the one hand… On the other hand, every reader can comment and discuss and, above all, publish articles themselves. There’s no other German-language website that offers that.”
Some industry veterans have come out against this type of journalism, commenting that it has devalued the purpose of writing and reporting news. Jörg Sadrozinsk, once the leader of tagesschau.de, and now in charge of the German Journalism School in Munich, is open to the idea of the Huffington Post in Germany, but is also skeptical as to whether or not it should be considered trustworthy news. He told DW that journalism “has a bit to do with trust,” and that “the website first has to work for the trust of its users… Such platforms, on which everyone can publish their material without getting anything in return, contributes to a devaluation of journalism.”
By 2016, HuffingtonPost.de hopes to be profitable with 9 million monthly visitors. That number may be a bit low, considering the 77 million visitors the US based site receives every month, but it would make it the “fifth largest news platform in Germany,” and the most successful foreign edition of the site by a large amount. Even with those numbers, the German-language edition of the Huffington Post would still be small in comparison to two of the top German news sites; Bild.de sees more than 250 million visits each month and spiegel.de is seen by 187 million monthly.