At a swanky launch party last week, Huffington Post unveiled a new iPad-only magazine called simply Huffington. It's a new outlet with a new business model, an upscale departure from the loud, lewd, unavoidably popular website. The click-driven, sensational approach was burying HuffPo's serious journalistic efforts, so it's trying a new tack: a premium Newsstand app for the iPad demographic.
The weekly magazine mixes short news stories and three long-form features in each issue. It arrives on Apple's Newsstand on Friday mornings. Single issues cost $0.99, and subscriptions come at $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. Huffington Post won't discuss the budget for the magazine, although the cost is subsidized by sponsors.
"We're really comfortable with what we're spending on this," editor Timothy O'Brien told reporters last Tuesday.
The magazine has its own editorial staff of 24, led by O'Brien, a former editor at The New York Times. The articles will be new and separate from those on the Huffington Post website, but the writing staff will draw from the same pool. There will still be features on the website, but the magazine is the premium product.
"We do a lot of beautiful features that can be lost" on the main site, O'Brien said. In Arianna Huffington's post introducing the magazine, she led off with the fact that HuffPo has "nearly 500 editors and reporters who produce between 70 and 80 original reported stories each day."
HuffPo is heavily invested in journalism, but the economics of page views aren't doing it justice. No organization has a better vantage point on digital-only news production as Huffington Post, so it's an important signal for publishers that it is breaking out its high-quality reporting from its daily blogging and aggregating.
Adding an iPad magazine to the AOL-owned outlet's "array of narrative jewels" gives Huffington Post a chance to try out clean designs, strong typography and magazine-style full-screen ads, reducing the distractions and providing "stories to be savored." Huffington calls the magazine "HuffPost's more stylish offspring."
While the magazine requires a subscription, there's a free demo issue in the App Store, and articles shared by Facebook, Twitter and email can be read on the Web.