I had an early love affair with print, dating to my school years in Athens when my father was a newspaper editor. I grew up on the romance of journalism, and my love of print in the form of books was so all consuming that I remember sending my friends home early from my fifth birthday party because they were interfering with my reading. All these years later, I still love few things more than curling up with a good book… or, increasingly, a good iPad or Kindle. And at HuffPost, like at so many other places, tablets have become a major tool not only for preserving but also for enhancing the reading experience in our hyper-connected world.
There’s a split screen aspect to the way we read now. On one side, our reading experience is defined by the speed, multi-tasking, and news and information promiscuity that characterize today’s media world. These qualities aren’t usually a good match for stories that require a deeper commitment of time and attention.
On the other side of the split screen, there is incredible innovation, creativity and engagement that in many ways are transforming the way we read — and even replicating the unplugged nature of reading. Like Pocket (formerly ReadItLater), the app that lets you save content and read it later offline, far from a wifi hotspot. And The Printed Blog, which curates the best blogs on the web to produce a beautifully designed print magazine. (I love their motto: “Like the Internet. Only Flammable.”)
Later this month, HuffPost will debut a new iPad magazine we are calling Huffington. Far from merely importing material from HuffPost, Huffington will bring the qualities that define HuffPost — storytelling, engagement, community — to this uniquely expressive medium, designed and produced by our iPad magazine’s team of editors. Think of Huffington as HuffPost’s more stylish offspring. Same DNA, different presentation.
Huffington’s content will emphasize the rich — and richly rewarding — interactions that come from uninterrupted time spent in the company of creative minds. We now have nearly 500 editors and reporters and produce between 70 and 80 original reported stories each day. We have plenty of jewels on the site, and Huffington is our way of selecting among those jewels and putting them in the perfect setting. That means sophisticated design, stunning photographs and video, and typography that’s sharper than any print publication could provide. And it includes rich, colorful full-screen ads that are far away from the maddening crowds of banner ads, pop-ups, and drop-downs.
Like its parent, Huffington will embrace a mix of old and new, high and low. Selections from our first issue include a Q&A with Jimmy Kimmel, a devastating profile of the effects of a coal-ash landfill on a small Alabama town, and a back-of-the-book piece containing our predictions of which celebrities will soon be entering rehab.
And since engagement is a big part of everything we do, stories will end with a comment bubble; you can tap it, share your comment, and continue the conversation. Huffington’s articles can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and email. We’ve worked to make Huffington engaging without going overboard on the bells and whistles.
Because what we must not forget is that, even with all the high-tech tools at our disposal, the timeless aspect of reading is a way to connect not only with the past, and with others, but with ourselves. We are, of course, living in a golden age of engagement. And as we continue to redefine the tablet experience, I think it’s fair to say that we will soon be living in a golden age of reading, as well.