Last week, The Huffington Post launched a new socially conscious vertical, HuffPost Impact. The new section of the online pub, launched in partnership with Causecast.org, features cause-related news and opinion, with many stories including a call to action that connects readers to ways to donate time or money.
For example, during its launch week, HuffPost featured a story on its homepage about Monique Zimmerman-Stein, “a mother who shares a rare genetic disorder with her children that causes blindness.” Rising medical bills forced Monique to sacrifice her own sight to save her daughters’. Huffington Post readers responded to the call to donate to the family, and the site raised over $30,000 in a matter of days.
“This has been a passion of mine for many years,” HuffPost editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington told FishbowlNY in an interview yesterday. “Back when I was living in Washington in the early ’90s I pitched the idea of creating a CSPAN3 because I thought we needed to have a 24/7 outlet to cover what is happen in communities, that can cover nonprofits and people giving money. At the time it wasn’t clear the that the Internet was going to be the place where people would get their news 24 hours a day.”
Huffington has extended this idea of 24/7 cause-related news to HuffPost, where anyone looking to donate to a cause — or simply learn more about it — can search the site any time of day. AllforGood.org, which claims Huffington as a board member, is helping power cause searching on the section.
More of our interview with Huffington, after the jump
“Every story that you see on Impact is a story that you can take action on,” Huffington explained. “That is the whole point of what we are doing. Some stories purely offer information on a topic, but many include action widgets. And we pick a story a week that we actually feature in the home page.”
Explained Causecast founder and CEO Ryan Scott, “Our goal with Impact is to engage the socially active HuffPost audience and take their passion one step further than simply building awareness surrounding the critical issues.”
“I feel that as we’re living in these really hard times at the moment for millions of people, building communities and coming together to help each other is all the more important,” Huffington said. “In hard times a country can go in two directions: we can be filled by anger and rage and scapegoating, or we can tap into the better parts of our nature and want to give back. That’s why I think Impact is very significant politically in terms of the kind of country we want to be.”
“We’re delighted to be partnering with the impassioned and creative team at Causecast.org,” she added.
Although Huffington’s altruism is admirable, we couldn’t help but notice that the “Most Popular on Huffington Post” widget along the right side of the screen runs stories about Meghan McCain’s boobs and Sienna Miller’s promiscuity alongside Impact stories about cancer research and promoting literacy. Is Huffington concerned by this contradiction?
“We actually feel that we want to cover everything, the whole human experience, the high brow and the low brow. And we are very unapologetic,” she said. “We don’t see any contradiction. We want to cover everything from the most important political decisions to the most in depth spiritual discussions, to fashion and celebrities. We run the gamut and that’s why we have different verticals. If one thing doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to click on it.”