HuffPost’s hiring of Liz Heron bucks trend of newsroom exodus to tech

September 29, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

In recent years, a slew of prominent journalists have been poached from newsrooms for high-profile positions in the tech industry. Twitter hired Vivian Schiller after her exit from NPR. Peter Hamby left CNN for Snapchat. And in 2012, Twitter recruited Mark Luckie away from The Washington Post. (Both Schiller and Luckie have since left Twitter.)

But on Tuesday, that storyline got a new twist when Liz Heron, Facebook’s head of journalism partnerships, re-entered the newsroom. Heron, who was emerging editor at The Wall Street Journal before her stint at Facebook, will be joining The Huffington Post as executive editor, Mike Shields writes for The Wall Street Journal:

Ms. Huffington said Ms. Heron’s experience working on that product provided her insight into Web publishing business models that will be crucial in her new role.

In her announcement of the move on Facebook, Heron said she’d be emphasizing the use of social networks and distributed news during her new job.

I’m a big believer in news meeting you where you spend your time, so I’m looking forward to working closely with Facebook, Instagram and other partners in my new role at Huff Post.

Heron’s move back into journalism is a good sign, said Raju Narisetti, senior vice president at News Corp.

“It’s great that people are not hung up on giving these large global newsrooms to people in conventional print jobs,” he said. “I’m hoping that this will spark more people to take such bets, because I think as an industry we need to make this generational shift. Too many people at the top levels are from primarily print backgrounds, and I think this is holding us back.”

Heron should also bring a more innovative approach to The Huffington Post, he said.

“Liz is well-equipped to reimagine Huffington Post for an era of nimbler dispersed content,” said Narisetti, who hired Heron at the Wall Street Journal. “She’s also very international by nature and temperament and will probably be very eager to figure out Huffington Post’s global news approach as well.”

Heron’s new job shows the continuing exchange between newsrooms and tech companies, said Katie Hawkins-Gaar, Poynter’s digital innovation faculty member.

“More than anything, I think this proves how intertwined tech and media are today,” she said. “Companies like Twitter and Apple want curation and storytelling expertise from journalists, and media outlets are looking for insight on how to grow and reach wider audiences through social and mobile.”

The hire “also underscores how a lot of our work is appearing on other platforms,” said Mitra Kalita, managing editor at the Los Angeles Times and an adjunct faculty member at Poynter. “Liz has been ahead of the curve on where our audiences are and understands the need to meet them there.”