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Arianna Huffington's posts

Nov 30th 2011

Taking Our Talents to South Florida: Introducing HuffPost Miami


Today marks the rollout of our latest local section, HuffPost Miami. Yes, like generations of snowbirds before us (and a certain basketball player from Cleveland), we are heading down to the Sunshine State -- and not just for a few months on South Beach. We're here to stay.

Miami is, after all, one of the most dynamic and diverse cities in the world -- and, thanks to scores of South Florida-set movies and TV shows, ranging from Flipper to Scarface to Miami Vice to Ace Ventura to (gulp) Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, one of the most recognizable.

HuffPost Miami will, of course, bring you the stories and images that have long defined Miami in the popular imagination -- from airboats gliding through the Everglades to Bentleys cruising down Ocean Drive; from the clatter of dominoes on Calle Ocho to the crack of the pelota at the Jai Alai fronton; from D-Wade, LeBron, and the Heat throwing it down on Biscayne to David Caruso's Horatio Caine pulling off his shades and delivering a mordant zinger; from the skyscrapers of downtown to the kick-back vibe of Coconut Grove and the Art Deco hotels on South Beach.

But we'll also dig deeper in an effort to tell the stories of all the people who make up this unique city -- one that is a combustible blend of the old and the new, the glittery and the grimy, the transient and the entrenched. Our coverage will include the struggles that are familiar to cities all across the country but that have hit Miami particularly hard. Indeed, in many ways the city is emblematic of post-meltdown America. In Miami-Dade County, one in five mortgages is in foreclosure, and the unemployment rate is 10.8 percent -- nearly 2 percentage points above the national average. And Miami is among the top five American cities that have witnessed the exodus of young people in recent years, while Florida is home to one-third of the country's homeless population.

At the same time, South Florida remains a beacon of opportunity in the American immigrant tradition; nearly half of those living in Miami-Dade were born in another country. The city's burgeoning art scene includes Art Basel (which kicks off tomorrow), the emerging Wynwood Arts District, and the Adrienne Arsht Center, the country's second-largest performing arts center behind New York's Lincoln Center. And Miami's culinary scene has exploded in recent years into a thriving outpost of celebrity chefs, homegrown stars, food and wine festivals, and food trucks.

With a combination of original reporting, comprehensive curation, and a group blog, HuffPost Miami will function as a virtual public square for the city's diverse voices. And HuffPost Miami will be working especially closely with HuffPost Latino Voices to ensure the best possible coverage of Miami's robust Cuban, Caribbean, and Central and South American populations.

Among the original stories by HuffPost reporters and editors we're featuring today: Cristina Costantini takes a look at how Spanish has become integrated in Miami compared to other cities with high Hispanic populations, and Matt Sledge reports on the body blow delivered to Miami-Dade county's finances by the NBA lockout.

Like all our sections, HuffPost Miami features a group blog where some of the city's most compelling voices -- both prominent and unknown -- weigh in on the issues and ideas, both big and small, they care most about. Be sure to check out our launch day blog posts, including University of Florida ecologist Frank Mazzotti on how protecting the Everglades is both a moral imperative and a good business plan; Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez on why he didn't support Mayor Gimenez' budget; food writer Ellen Kanner on an organic farm whose feasts draw hungry locals and star chefs alike while raising money for local children's programs; businessman and philanthropist Stuart Paskow on how Miami can reestablish itself as a leader among cities in charitable giving; and University of Miami professor Dr. Casey Klofstad on why changing attitudes in the Cuban-American community haven't yet "turned Little Havana blue" at the ballot box.

HuffPost Miami is edited by Janie Campbell, a proud Florida native who previously worked as deputy web editor at NBC Miami. She has also served as an editor at The Feast and SB Nation, and has written for NBC Local Media and a slew of irreverent sports blogs. (And its first loyal reader will be Roy Sekoff, HuffPost's founding editor, who was born in Miami, graduating from Coral Gables High and the University of Miami, and whose wonderful mom and dad, Leah and Arthur, have owned and operated Book Horizon bookstore on South Dixie Highway for the last 58 years. His dad, by the way, is the sharpest evaluator of my hair whenever I appear on TV -- good or bad, he lets me know it.)

So check out HuffPost Miami, and use the comments section below to let us know what you think. We hope you'll help make the HuffPost Miami community a big part of the editorial mix -- suggesting and submitting stories, voting on polls, uploading pictures to interactive slideshows, and posting on the all issues that matter most to you and most impact your life.

(This post originally ran on The Huffington Post.)

Nov 17th 2011

Tweaking The Recipe: Announcing the New and Improved Kitchen Daily

With Thanksgiving just a week away, there's no better time to announce the launch of our redesigned Kitchen Daily, which has now moved to the HuffPost platform with blogs, comments, and all the latest social sharing tools.

My memories of growing up in Greece are filled with food -- fresh fruit and vegetables, a great deal of fish, and a seemingly endless amount of olive oil. My mother, to whom food was a sacred part of life, could be found most of the time in the kitchen. I think she truly believed that if you didn't eat every 20 minutes something terrible would happen to you. And, of course, no one could ever come to our house -- whether a UPS delivery man or a parent dropping off a child for a play date -- without being offered something to eat.

So I'm delighted that Kitchen Daily will approach food not just as sustenance but as something to be shared and enjoyed, over which we tell stories and spend time with family and friends. Kitchen Daily will be a one-stop destination for the best recipes, cooking tips, taste tests and product reviews.

We want to help satisfy everyone's curiosity about food, whether you're a mom cooking for your family, a recent college grad out on your own for the first time, a fledgling foodie, or an experienced cook. Check out today's blog posts from Mario Batali, on the importance of family dinners; John Besh, with a passionate plea for home cooking; The Splendid Table's Lynne Rossetto Kasper; chef Marcus Samuelsson and more.

The new Kitchen Daily will be all about community, connecting you with a diverse mix of voices, both amateur and expert, from your favorite celebrity chef to fellow readers working their ways around the kitchen. And it will complement the food news and trends you can find at HuffPost Food.

Kitchen Daily is overseen by Colin Sterling, the senior editor of HuffPost Food, who has been with HuffPost since before Day One -- and certainly long before there was a HuffPost Food. It will be edited by Kristen Aiken, a graduate of Barnard College, where she labored toward her goal of working for the New York Yankees. After writing and editing several years for the Yankees and then MLB.com, she changed gears and earned a degree from the French Culinary Institute. Before becoming our Kitchen Daily editor, she worked as an online editor at Martha Stewart Living.

So do yourself and your taste buds a favor and check out Kitchen Daily. As always, your participation is central to what we do, so please submit your photos and tips, vote on recipes and products, and use the comment section to let us know what you think. Bon Appetit!

(Originally posted on Kitchen Daily)

Oct 11th 2011

Bonjour, Paris: HuffPost and Le Monde Announce Le Huffington Post!

PARIS -- Bonjour from Paris! It's 3 a.m. Tuesday morning here. This has been a really exciting day. Every time I come to Paris -- starting with my first trip outside Greece when I was 11 -- I love every minute here. But this trip was special, as I'm here to announce the upcoming launch of Le Huffington Post, in partnership with Le Monde and French media powerhouse Les Nouvelles Editions Indépendantes (LNEI).

The new site, which will of course be in French, will be up and running by the end of the year, combining HuffPost's signature mix of news, blogging, community, and social engagement with our partners' unmatched local expertise. Le Huffington Post will be deeply rooted in French culture and run by French journalists. It will, like France itself, have a very distinct personality -- its own way of approaching the world.

And to make that happen, we couldn't have found better partners. Though it's certainly venerable, Le Monde is actually not that old. It was founded in 1944, at the request of Charles de Gaulle, to be an independent and truly French voice that would take the place of Le Temps, which had been irreparably tainted during the German occupation. Le Monde's founding editor was the legendary Hubert Beuve-Méry, who was famously feisty, independent, incorruptible and pessimistic (for which some might say there's a pretty high bar in France). ''He was upright, exacting and constant," said President François Mitterrand when Beuve-Méry passed away in 1989. "He never betrayed himself." He was also legendary for being a fierce thorn in the side of those in power. "Journalism is contact and distance," he wrote. "Both are necessary. Sometimes there is too much contact, and not enough distance. Sometimes it's the opposite. A difficult equilibrium."

Le Monde has a unique organizational structure, in which its editors, writers and staffers have a powerful voice in management decisions. And though the paper is a French institution, it is also no stranger to the web -- having been online since 1995.

As we've worked out the details of our partnership, it's been a real pleasure getting to know Louis Dreyfus, the CEO of Le Monde (one of the few French chief executives regularly on Twitter), and Matthieu Pigasse, one of three major Le Monde shareholders, as well as the owner and Chairman of LNEI, which puts out the pop culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles. Oh, yes, he is also the European head of Lazard, an ardent fan of punk rock and videogames, and known to sleep very few hours a night (so he can expect me to be on his case about getting more sleep!). Working with Louis and Matthieu has also allowed me the chance to shake the rust off my French (and, yes, apparently I have something of a Greek accent in French, too).

This is a great moment to be entering the world of French news. Across the political spectrum, people are asking the big questions -- about the European Union, about class, about immigration, about race, about what the government's responsibility is to its people, about what the people's responsibility is to their country, about what it means to be French, about what it means to be European.

Just this weekend there was the first-ever American-style primary for the French Socialist Party. At least for the time being, the Socialists are widely believed to have a good chance of unseating President Nicolas Sarkozy in elections next year. This, and the fact that the Socialists haven't won the presidency since 1988, made the primary particularly important. The move to a primary was premised on the idea that this would result in a candidate with broader appeal for the general election. But though the primary was American-style, its other elements were thoroughly French. The winner was François Hollande, the party's former leader. But because he got under 50 percent, he'll face a runoff against Martine Aubry. In fourth place was Ségolène Royal, the candidate who lost to Sarkozy in 2007. She's also Hollande's former partner and the mother of his four children. The couple split up in 2007, after Hollande had an affair with a journalist -- though they decided to do the mature thing and remain friends Socialists ("Honey, let's not fight in front of the Party").

There's also the saga of what might be called France's Lehman Brothers -- a troubled banking giant called Dexia, which France and Germany have just decided to bail out. Apparently it was exposure to Greek bonds -- not Greeks -- that brought the bank down.

It's also intriguing watching how France, a country with a defiantly unique social personality, is putting its stamp on social media. According to a recent article by our new partner (translated here by Time.com), using Twitter to teach journalism and good writing is gaining steam in France. One teacher, Jean-Roch Masson began employing Twitter in 2010 with the slogan, "We are going to be the journalists of our own lives." Could there be a better motto for journalism in the era of social media? And as another teacher Stéphanie de Vanssay points out, Twitter can make students realize that writing is, ultimately, about communication. "Just writing a line makes no real sense," she says, "but writing it for someone does."

And we'll get the chance to cover -- up close and personal -- those there-will-always-be-a-France stories people love to share. Like this story about how the words "Twitter" and "Facebook" were banned this summer from being used on TV or radio, unless in a news story. The decision was based on a 1992 decree holding that mentioning brand names like these constitutes an unfair act of advertising. So maybe we'll get some great lines in French TV shows like, "Hey, will you select me as part of your social circle on a popular online community site, assuming we are, in fact, both members of such a site, if one were to exist?"

Even more French is the ban, or at least the constraint, on putting ketchup on french fries -- or anything else -- in French schools. The purpose of the regulation isn't health, but education -- about French culinary history and standards. Baguettes, along with ennui, are being offered without limit.

One thing we hope to have an impact on is the distinction, still being stubbornly clung to in much of French media, between online journalism and print journalism. In the U.S. that line is quickly eroding, as traditional outlets adopt the tools of digital journalists, including speed, transparency, and social engagement, and new media adopt the best practices of traditional journalism, including fact-checking, accuracy, and fairness.

But in France, blogs and online journalists are still deuxième classe. For example, last year the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported rumors that both President Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, were having affairs. But the report only ran on the paper's website, as if there were different standards for accuracy online and off, and their website was suitable simply for rumors and speculation ("Tartuffe in the age of Twitter" the New York Times' Steven Erlanger called it). So we hope Le Huffington Post can help bring a little egalite to the world of French digital journalism, as well as make the site a destination for real and meaningful conversation.

Also being imported from HuffPost HQ will be our commitment to breaking down another distinction -- that between right and left. This should be especially interesting, given that France is where the terms were given their political meaning. The designations date from the French Revolution, in which supporters of the king sat on the president's right side in the National Assembly and those opposed sat on the left. We like to think that there is some great meaning behind the ways we identify ourselves. But as the history of right vs. left shows, it's often arbitrary -- which is great for those of us who can't wait to get beyond the constant division of every issue into right vs. left. Sometimes right vs. left is just a seating chart.

I spoke about these and other related issues last night when I gave this year's inaugural address at the Centre de Formation des Journalistes. I was introduced by Henri Pigeat, the Centre's chairman, and the former CEO of Agence France-Presse. Pigeat is a tireless defender of press freedom, and an articulate voice on how technology can be used to improve journalism. (It goes without saying that I asked him to blog for our new site.)

As I said, we plan to launch "Le Huff" by the end of the year. So whether you find yourself in France, or just want to hang out in a virtual French café, come to Le Huffington Post and join the conversation. À bientôt!

(This post was originally posted on The Huffington Post)

Oct 7th 2011

A Grand Slam of New Sites: Introducing Huff/Post50, HuffPost High School, HuffPost Gay Voices, and HuffPost Weddings

I hope you are all in the mood to try new things, because I am delighted to announce four new additions to the Huffington Post menu today: Huff/Post50, HuffPost High School, HuffPost Gay Voices, and HuffPost Weddings (how's that for a diverse quartet?).

Let's start with Huff/Post50, our new site devoted to those of us who are part of the so-called "baby boom" generation born between 1946 and 1964 (the site's name was the brainchild of Rita Wilson, Huff/Post50's editor-at-large). There are currently 77 million of us in America (and 116 million aged 50 and over).

Our country has a very schizophrenic relationship with aging. On the one hand, we are a culture that is obsessed with youth and staying young. At the same time, thanks to advances in science, health, and medicine, Boomers are living longer and staying more active than ever before.

Huff/Post50 covers the challenges, complexities, and joys faced by Boomers -- everything from the "sandwich" pressures of simultaneously taking care of children and aging parents, to navigating the latest innovations in health and the science of aging, to sex and relationships at 50+ , to the question of reinventing oneself -- either out of necessity (sudden unemployment) or a desire to explore new interests and find new meaning in life.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that there are no second acts in American life. Boomers are proving him wrong on a daily basis. After all, I co-founded HuffPost in my mid-50s. And I'm far from alone in launching a new project after 50. Indeed, one of the reasons I asked Rita to help create Huff/Post50 was how inspired I was by seeing her pursue her lifelong dream of performing in a musical, realized when she made her Broadway debut, at age 49, in Chicago.

Huff/Post50 will question the conventional wisdom that life post-50 is about winding down, and spotlight other Boomers who embrace the idea of taking on new challenges and reinventing themselves, regardless of their age. It will offer the latest news and information on the issues that matter most to men and women 50+, including health, relationships, politics, retirement planning, spirituality, humor, culture, philanthropy, and facing illness and death. And we are creating a robust community for conversation and engagement on all these topics.

Huff/Post50 of course features a dynamic and vibrant group blog. Among those weighing in today are Bill Maher, on being in his fifties and finally being able to "see over the crest of the mountain"; Ann and Nancy Wilson on the important role music can play in life's journey; Christiane Amanpour on life's certainties evaporating after 50; and Rita Wilson on learning how to rebalance being there for her loved ones while exploring all the things she still wants to do. We are also launching our "Late Blooming" series with a funny and revealing Q/A with Jane Lynch.

Located on the other end of the demographic spectrum is HuffPost High School, devoted to teens and the issues they care about. The new section features content from some of the nation's top teen journalists and writers, and a group blog where teen bloggers can weigh in on everything from college prep to high school sports, to homework, to the role technology plays in their lives, to comedy, poetry, politics, proms and beyond.

Over the years, HuffPost has regularly covered the troubled state of America's education system, with plunging test scores, skyrocketing dropout rates, and crumbling classrooms. It's a system that's become a bloody battlefield, with our children too often getting caught in the crossfire.

But these failures are symptoms of flawed policies, an antiquated approach to learning, and our leaders' perverted priorities -- not a reflection of the intelligence, curiosity, and passions of our nation's teens. Indeed, as I travel around the country, I've been consistently impressed by the talented young people I meet, so many of them engaged by the most important issues of our time, and committed to being part of making a difference in the world. HuffPost High School intends to put the spotlight on them, and to give them a safe and welcoming platform to talk about what's really happening in their lives -- socially, academically, and culturally.

Driven by the creative input of smart, talented young people with a desire to share their ideas, we hope the site will become a go-to destination for -- and by -- America's teens. To this end, we've forged a long list of partnerships, including with TeensinTech.com (their "Teen 2.0" column will highlight amazing teen entrepreneurs around the country); Dosomething.org (they've developed a widget for HuffPost High that helps make stories on the section "actionable"); Varsitynetworks.com (to help cover high school sports); Figment.com (featuring some of the best student fiction and poetry); and iKeepSafe.org (a group devoted to making the web a safe place for teens).

The third of our new sites is HuffPost Gay Voices, a section offering the latest news and unfiltered opinion on any and all matters of interest to the LGBT community. The issues addressed will be as varied as the community itself. Everything is fair game, including -- but not limited to -- race, class, ethnicity, faith, family, sex, work, culture, marriage, civil rights, and politics, as well as everyday topics such as travel, food, style, health, and celebrity gossip.

HuffPost has long covered LGBT news, culture, and opinion -- with a special focus on the struggle over gay rights. We've cheered the advances (the repeal of DADT, the incremental advance of same-sex marriage), and criticized the setbacks (boos rained on a gay soldier's question during a GOP debate, the recent refusal of an appeals court to rule DADT unconstitutional, complicating the efforts of discharged gay service members to be reinstated). HuffPost Gay Voices provides a platform for all these stories to live in one place -- making it easier for readers to find, share, and discuss them. In the end, HuffPost Gay Voices is just that, a section comprised, first and foremost, of voices -- offering opinions as diverse as the community they spring from.

Today, you can check out our not-to-be-missed interview with Lady Gaga, where she weighs in on bisexuality, outing, DADT, pop culture's ability to change society, and creative re-invention. We also have the exclusive debut of lesbian folk singer Melissa Ferrick's new video "Still Right Here," and, coming later in the week, a slideshow on the gayest moments on Glee. And we have fresh takes from Margaret Cho, blogging on why she considers herself queer even though she's married to a man; Bruce Vilanch on the community he found while attending the North Louisiana Gay & Lesbian Film Festival; and "Glitterbomber" Nick Espinosa on what it's like being a straight male activist for gay rights.

Finally, we are also launching HuffPost Weddings, a section that will cover the joys and headaches of weddings and modern marriage. At HuffPost, we've always done things unconventionally, so it should be no surprise that one year after launching our popular Divorce site, we've decided to go back to the beginning with a site bringing you the latest news and opinion on getting -- and staying -- married.

We'll cover it all, from wedding day minutiae (gowns! cakes! bridesmaids! first dances!), to dream honeymoons, to anniversaries, to the latest research on coupledom, to the challenges of making a modern marriage last.

Launch day stories include a post from reporter Catherine Pearson on the trend toward unconventional weddings and the couples who have them; a look at ten video marriage proposals that went viral; a collection of our readers' wedding day disaster stories; the first installment of our "10 Things You Don't Know About My Marriage," from Joy Behar; a slideshow of The Most Awkward Wedding Photos of All Time; a Q/A with the National Marriage Project's Brad Wilcox about a new report that reveals the many ways marriage is good for the economy; and a blog post from Lori Leibovich, our Executive Women's Editor, about IndieBride, a site she founded and which will now be part of HuffPost Weddings.

These four sections bring the number of new sections we've launched since March to 21 -- all part of our continued effort to provide content, community, and a platform for self-expression for as many of our readers' interests and passions as we can.

So check out Huff/Post50, HuffPost High School, HuffPost Gay Voices, and HuffPost Weddings and use the comment section on this post to let us know what you think -- and what other interests and passions you'd like to see us cover.

(This post was originally posted on The Huffington Post)

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