Huffpost editor in chief Lydia Polgreen announced today that she will step down from her role later this month to become Gimlet Media’s head of content.
Polgreen, a longtime New York Times reporter and editor before heading to HuffPost in 2017, will lead the podcasting company’s content strategy after it was snatched up by Spotify for an estimated $240 million in February 2019.
“I’m incredibly grateful to my extraordinary colleagues, and to the leadership of Verizon Media, which has championed HuffPost at a time when aggressive journalism that holds power to account is more necessary and more under threat than ever,” Polgreen said in a statement.
Polgreen took over the editor’s role from Arianna Huffington in December 2016 after Huffington left in August following the sale of the site that same month to Verizon Media. In her new role, Polgreen quickly changed the site’s name from The Huffington Post to HuffPost, reflecting different editorial sensibilities.
“For me, the biggest divide in America—indeed, across the globe—is between those who have power and those who don’t, and that doesn’t easily line up with our red and blue, left or right politics,” Polgreen said at the time. “The media has come up short in telling the story of one side of that divide—of the people experiencing anger, voicelessness and powerlessness.”
Polgreen took this idea to the streets—literally. In the summer of 2017, HuffPost started its Listen to America bus tour to “listen and learn what it means to be American today.” At the cost of $1 million, Polgreen and her team crisscrossed the country to hear what was on Americans’ minds.
Beyond the “hard” news, Polgreen also invested in the softer side, redesigning the media company’s lifestyle coverage in 2018. Talking to Adweek at the time, Polgreen said that HuffPost Life was a place for advertisers to feel comforted that brand messages wouldn’t be overshadowed by the doom and gloom of the day.
“For us, this is a real opportunity to create a space to work with brands, with the products and services, in an environment where they can make choices about where to shop, eat, be a better parent that’s separate and apart from the news,” Polgreen said.
However, the website’s traffic has dropped significantly and steadily during her tenure, according to Comscore. In January 2017, HuffPost saw 57.4 million monthly unique visitors (on huffingtonpost.com). By December 2019, after the site migrated to huffpost.com, it registered 34.8million monthly uniques.
“HuffPost continues to be an important part of the Verizon Media family,” a Verizon Media spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “It is a powerful platform producing world-class journalism from some of the best talent in the industry, while maintaining strong brand recognition and a fiercely loyal audience. We remain excited for the future of HuffPost and we are committed to its success.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Comscore measured 6.6 million unique visitors per month. That was measurement for HuffingtonPost.com. The site migrated to HuffPost.com in 2019. Comscore provided numbers for January 2020, 25.3 million uniques but then reported that it has a tagging issue, with an emailed statement saying: “Due to a potential technical issue, Comscore data for January 2020 may be temporarily understated for certain properties including HuffPost.com. We apologize for the oversight and will share updated figures as soon as we have concluded reviewing the issue.”