HuffPost + AOL: The First Year in Numbers

As amazing as this last year has been for the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, we have even bigger plans moving ahead: more sections, more international editions, more original reporting, more ways of making the site -- and the stories we cover -- social.
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Nearly a year ago, after the news broke that AOL was buying The Huffington Post -- to be precise, it broke at midnight on February 5th, just after the Packers won the Super Bowl -- I wrote in my announcement post that, for HuffPost, the merger would be like "stepping off a fast-moving train and onto a supersonic jet" -- or 1 + 1 = 11.

Coming up on our one-year anniversary, a look at the numbers shows that our math was way off. It turns out that 1 + 1 actually equaled 44. And 54,000,000. And 1,200,000,000 (those figures are, respectively, the number of new verticals launched since the merger, the number of comments posted last year, and the number of page views we got in December 2011).

Here are some other notable figures from the past year:

Unique visitors a month: 36.2 million (an increase of 47 percent)

Comments in the last month: 6 million

Comments on a single day: 253,331 (Jan 25, 2012)

New commenters signing up per day: 5,500

Social referrals in a month: 21.6 million (December 2011)

Facebook referrals in a day: 1.4 million (January 4, 2012)

International editions launched: 3 (Canada, UK, France)

Additional international editions scheduled in the next three months: 3 (Quebec, Spain, Italy)

Editors and reporters added: 170

New bloggers: 9,884

Blog posts in last year: 61,688

Stories published per day: over 1,000

HuffPost e-books published: 4

HuffPost sections ranked #1 in unique visitors in their category, according to comScore: 3 (HuffPost Politics, HuffPost Green, HuffPost Gay Voices)

Naps taken in the HuffPost nap rooms (NapQuest 1 and 2): 1,874 (estimated)

But as impressive as these numbers are, more important to us are the core values that are part of our DNA. Starting with engagement -- putting the HuffPost community front and center, and creating a civil environment in which thousands of conversations can take place at any moment. Indeed, we've committed a lot of resources (both in terms of state-of-the-art technology and a dedicated team of moderators) to pre-moderating comments in order to foster a non-toxic atmosphere where people can let their voices be heard and often disagree -- passionately but civilly. As a result, we've been rewarded with one of the most active communities on the web, and over 130 million comments since we launched.

This year, we have intensified our commitment to covering not just all that is dysfunctional in our politics and our culture (we do plenty of this!), but the abundant displays around the country and the world of empathy and innovation in turning around lives and strengthening communities. To that effect, we have added a Good News section to our Impact section, and have published thousands of stories and blog posts about people responding to challenges with perseverance, creativity and compassion -- and coming up with solutions that help better the lives of others. And we enlisted our nearly 900 Patch editors in helping to bring a local focus to our Greatest Person of the Day feature.

One of the advantages of being a new media outlet is being able to obsessively cover a story for as long as you think it matters, which is something we've dedicated ourselves to doing from the start. One of the stories we've relentlessly stayed on is the multitude of challenges faced by America's middle class.

We have covered -- and will continue to cover -- this story from all angles, and again and again make the connections that are far too often neglected by candidates and many in the media. Whether it's housing, foreclosures, unemployment, for-profit colleges, student debt, consumer financial protection, predatory banks, or the challenges facing returning vets, we have kept the spotlight on these issues.

That's why HuffPost's first e-book, published in September, was Arthur Delaney's A People's History of the Great Recession, which sought to put flesh and blood on the data of our economic crisis by bringing our readers the real stories of the unemployed, of those facing foreclosure, of the "formerly middle class." And it's why our last e-book of 2011, published in December, was Beyond the Battlefield, which was based on a riveting, ten-part series, augmented with video and infographics and written by our veteran military correspondent, David Wood, exploring the challenges, successes and tragedies that severely wounded veterans experience when returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

And here are just a handful of other HuffPost editorial highlights from the last year:
  • For-Profit Colleges: In ongoing coverage, Chris Kirkham explored the uses and abuses of for-profit post-secondary education. In deep investigative pieces, analytic features and daily reports, he offered groundbreaking coverage of how a booming industry intersects with indebted students, and national education policy.

  • Osama bin Laden: On one of the most competitive breaking news stories of the year, The Huffington Post's national news team provided around-the-clock coverage pegged to up-to-the-minute live blogging, informative features, and wide-ranging analysis about the capture and killing of bin Laden. The coverage generated more than 30,000 reader comments over a 12-hour period and made HuffPost the top search result on Google searches about Osama bin Laden's death.
  • Politics/2012 Campaign: Leveraging the talents of the dozens of great reporters and editors in HuffPost's Washington bureau, our coverage of the political landscape, debt ceiling mania, states in distress, the inner-workings of Congress, public policy lobbying, campaign finance, and the unreal reality show also known as the Republican primaries has made our Politics section a bellwether of shrewd reporting that routinely engages tens of millions of readers.
  • Primary-State Patches: An exemplar of the synergy between The Huffington Post and Patch is our constantly-updating Election 2012 liveblog that regularly pulls in content from our primary-state Patches -- including, as just one example, when HuffPost helped elevate the Concord Patch's scoop in New Hampshire that one of Mitt Romney's sons had made a birther joke about President Obama.
  • Anonymous: Disproving the idea that in-depth, ambitious and artfully crafted features have gone to their grave on the Web, Saki Knafo wrote a two-part, 9,000-word series on the internal workings of Anonymous, the hacker group that has garnered much attention by targeting governments and corporations with online disruptions and sabotage. Despite its length, the first installment of the story, in addition to simply being important journalism, also generated over 2,500 Facebook shares, 2,600 comments, and 550 tweets.
  • Media: Led by Michael Calderone, our media coverage of the Republican primaries has been definitive and singular. In conjunction with Jack Mirkinson, our Media editor, Calderone has shown how fast, smart, and wide-ranging HuffPost can be when it intently focuses on a single topic area -- whether it's Rupert Murdoch, the New York Times, CNN, Facebook, or journalists themselves.
  • Green: On such topics as fracking and the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline, our energy and environmental coverage (led by Tom Zeller, Jr.) has helped clarify and impact public policy -- while also highlighting entrepreneurs who are pioneering new ways to think about and develop energy resources.
  • Lifestyle: Over the last year we have dramatically increased our coverage of the deeply personal across a number of HuffPost sections -- Religion, Healthy Living, Women, Post50, Weddings, and Parents. Our coverage of the joys and pitfalls of parenting was given a boost by the addition of Lisa Belkin, a former New York Times columnist, who has been a guiding light articulating the fears and triumphs parents face by trying to be parents.
  • But as amazing as this last year has been, we have even bigger plans moving ahead: more sections, more international editions, more original reporting, more ways of making the site -- and the stories we cover -- social.

    Indeed, over the next year, about 20 HuffPost reporters will fan out across the country to produce, together with six editors and no doubt thousands of HuffPost community members, dozens of feature-length stories that will highlight and define the economic and personal challenges facing the waning American middle class and the disenfranchised poor -- helping elevate the plight of this overlooked swath of our fellow citizens into a subject that should become central during this election year.

    And we are ramping up our original video, including a breakthrough project we are announcing today: the HuffPost Streaming Network, a 24/7 live-streaming network that uses the HuffPost universe -- the stories, editors, reporters, bloggers, and community -- as its real-time script. Launching this summer, HuffPost Streaming Network, which is being overseen by our founding editor (and now HuffPost Streaming Network president) Roy Sekoff, will live on every platform -- computer, smartphone, tablet, Over-the-Top TV -- with the goal of creating the most social video experience anywhere (in other words, get ready for your close-up!).

    When it launches, the HuffPost Streaming Network will live-stream 12 hours of original programming, 5 days a week, and repeating overnight. This will increase to 16 hours a day of original live programming by the end of 2013.

    The network will be built around segments spotlighting the biggest, hottest, most engaging stories HuffPost is covering at any given moment and using them as the jumping-off points for conversations, commentary, and comedy. These segments will be as long -- or as short -- as they need to be. We won't be limited by the usual time constraints of TV.

    Instead, the HuffPost Streaming Network will emulate the online experience. No one looks at their watch and thinks, "It's 10 a.m., time for some celebrity news, I think I'll log on to HuffPost!" Instead, readers come to our site to catch up on what's happening in the world and wind up getting caught up in the wide array of compelling and addictive stories we offer. You may start with a story on the latest GOP debate, then find yourself drawn to some celebrity news followed by the latest viral comedy video.

    It may seem chaotic, but that's the fun of surfing around HuffPost -- just as it will be watching the Streaming Network. This is not TV, with its set schedules, overproduction, and rigid commercial breaks. HuffPost Streaming Network will be more relaxed, more free-flowing, and much more spontaneous and interactive.

    People aren't interested in being talked at anymore -- they want to be part of the conversation. And a big part of what HuffPost Streaming Network will do is help facilitate those conversations. That's why one of our mottos is Conversations Start Here. Stay tuned for more details -- including how you can be a part of the new network.

    In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for being the essential element in making the last year such an exhilarating one. HuffPost has always been about finding ways to make news, information, and entertainment more social -- about facilitating a never-ending conversation with and among our readers. Without you, 1 + 1 would still equal 2, instead of 44, and 54,000,000 and 1,200,000,000.

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