MILAN, Sept 24 An interview with former Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi will launch the Italian edition of
the influential Huffington Post news and views website.
"We have an interview with Berlusconi. That's our splash at
midnight tonight," Arianna Huffington, the Greek-born co-founder
of the U.S.-based website told Reuters on Monday.
The launch of huffingtonpost.it on Tuesday could bring a
breath of fresh air into an Italian media landscape dominated by
Berlusconi's media empire.
It also comes at a critical time for a country where
economic austerity measures have begun to hit hard less than a
year before the next general election, when the electorate will
pass judgement on Berlusconi's successor Mario Monti.
Huffington gave no more details about the Berlusconi
interview, but said the new website will be a "hybrid" mixing
the best of the Post's digital mastery with Italy's journalistic
Like the flagship U.S. edition, the local version of the
news-and opinion website will seek to become an interactive
experience for readers with a mix of news and opinion, using
blogs, photographs and video.
It will also aim to "capture the Italian spirit" by devoting
space to Italian culture and innovation.
"Unemployment in Italy is a major problem. We want to give a
voice to people who are out of a job, but also to those who have
solutions," she said. "We will hear both from experts and from
people so we can put flesh and blood on the data."
L'Huffington Post Italia, launched in partnership with
leading Italian newspapers and magazines publisher Gruppo
Editoriale L'Espresso, will be directed by veteran
journalist Lucia Annunziata and ran entirely by Italians.
Italy is the fifth country outside the United States where
the Huffington Post has landed, but strong visitor data is
fuelling an ambition for further expansion.
"We'd like to be in all major languages in the world. Next
country for launch is Germany, then Brazil, India, Japan and
South Korea," Huffington said.
According to the latest comScore report, traffic for
HuffPost.com in the U.S. is now at 43.8 million unique viewers
(UVs), a 19 percent rise on the year.
In time for its one year anniversary, HuffPost UK hit 4.6
million, while HuffPost France has just hit 2.2 million UVs.
The Huffington Post, purchased by AOL for $315
million last February, has launched sites in Canada, Britain,
France and Spain.