Le Huffington Post launches – France says “whatever”

Jan 23, 2012
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This morning, the long delayed, not so highly await French version of the Huffington post launched – and only a few weeks after the site was hacked and had its landing page screenshoted and posted publicly. The site launched amidst much other news, including the DLD 2012 conference in Munich, which took up much of the European twitter buzz.

I am not Le Huffington Post’s target audience, as I read most of my news in English, and what French news I follow usually comes from Les Guignols d’info, literally “news puppets” who find a good balance between the Muppets and the Daily Show. Nonetheless, I took a look at “Le HuffPo” to see what was in the news for the day. Outside of the easy French presidential race news, things began getting a little disperse: some European news, some Internet News, and some shallow American election new. But again, I am not the target audience, so I took to twitter to see how people were reacting – Kima co-founder Jeremie Berrebi summed it up nicely:

 Does Le Arianna know what French people want?

The highest apraisal of Le HuffPo seemed to place it as a competitor to LeMonde, France’s oldest and noblest of papers – but the question remains as to whether Huffington Post will be relevant in France. The Kernel’s Nick Denys recently wrote a piece on why HuffPo failed in the UK, citing that “Arianna Huffington seemed to be under the impression that the launch of HuffPo UK would be greeted as a revolutionary marvel by the British – as if she were the first person to bring fire to these isles.” Will Arianna bring the same attitude to France? If so, the French have long been a vocal and local people, and an outsider trying to tell them what news is news may not go over so well.

It’s already been a rocky start….

The first time Arianna visited France in 1951 … I hope she knows it’s changed since then.

Huffington Post France has had a rough time from the beginning. Since the announcement that HuffPo France would be head up by Anne Sinclair, a well known broadcast journalist from TF1, Canal+ and more, it’s been nothing but controversy and delays. At one point, the site was just going to translate its American counterpart’s articles, and then it seemed an army of writers would be paid to fill the site with original content.

Upon its launch today, Christophe Ginisty released an article explaining why he wouldn’t be working with Huffington Post France, citing that the HuffPo team was very sly in their approach, initially very convivial and welcoming, until the question of payment came up. His article highlights email correspondences between herself and HuffPo France, and gives a pretty poor impression of how Huffington Post is treating its writers, at least in the onset.

Another TechCrunch France?

TechCrunch France has long had problems with its US counterpart, whether it be paying writers, getting administrative work on the site, or being kept in the loop on goings on. TCFR has shut down three times by my count, most recently in the past 3 months. With Huffington Post being under the same AOL umbrella, it’s hard to imagine that there will be a better treatment of the team – at best, Anne Sinclair might get Mike Butcher status.

I don’t think I’ll be getting my news from HuffPo France any time soon, and since most of my twitter feed is French people comparing the US site to the French site, I think that the French site will be competing with its US Counterpart just to get the attention of French-speaking audience. Between that and LeMonde, Figaro, and FrenchWeb, it may be difficult for Le HuffPo to find its place in French readers’ hearts, eyes, and time.