We live in a cacophonous world. Thousands of voices shout for our attention from our social media timelines and TV screens. It’s hard to know what deserves our focus and what to tune out. At HuffPost, we believe it’s our job to bring you, our audience, the most thoughtful, diverse and provocative points of view from across the globe. So today we are launching two new sections: Opinion and Personal.
The new Opinion section will feature a mix of regular columnists and one-off guest writers, commissioned by our Opinion editors to produce smart, authentic, timely and rigorous op-eds. Our goal is to help our audience better understand the breakneck news cycle, and shed light on stories that aren’t getting enough attention. We will feature these columnists’ bylines prominently across the site, so that you will come to recognize a set of smart, reliable voices you can come back to again and again.
For example, today we are featuring Carol Anderson on the Republican agenda, Tressie McMillan Cottom on the complex challenges of the digital age, Lauren Sandler on the future of women’s leadership and Jamil Smith on why Trump’s racism makes him not only an immoral president but also an ineffective one. We are excited to welcome our slate of regular columnists, which will continue to grow and evolve.
The new Personal section will feature commissioned first-person essays by guest writers, as well as person-first content ― including features, Q&As and interviews written by HuffPost reporters ― exploring the experiences and lives of celebrities, newsmakers and “everyday” individuals.
Topics will span all the panorama of our lives, especially in the realm of identity (race, gender, sexuality, disability, intersectionality, etc.), health and mental health, sex/love/relationships, family and parenting, and great stories about unique life experiences. Ultimately, we want to feature personal, expressive pieces that explore or reveal some part of the human experience and how it connects to society, culture or the world at large, whether they’re written by the person who experienced it or reported by a member of the HuffPost Personal team.
As we roll out these changes, we are ending the HuffPost contributor platform. The platform, which launched in May 2005, was a revolutionary idea at the time: give a megaphone to lots of people ― some famous, some completely unknown ― to tell their stories. At that time, social networks barely existed. Facebook was a nascent dating site for college students. Twitter had not been invented. The platforms where so many people now share their views, like LinkedIn, Medium and others, were far in the future.
Looking back, it’s difficult to find a notable personality who hasn’t blogged on HuffPost at some point or another. Presidential candidate Barack Obama used HuffPost to address the controversy around his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Jennifer Aniston broke the internet by taking on body-shamers. Even Oprah got in the mix.
But the real achievement of the platform was giving a spotlight to a huge number of people who weren’t previously afforded one. In a time before the ubiquity of social media, the HuffPost platform was a public square where Americans of all walks of life could have a voice on matters both political and personal. In all, more than 100,000 contributors have posted on the U.S. site. Unknown writers have had their work seen by millions, and out of that have come book deals, movie scripts, countless conversations and at least one marriage.
Now, there are many places where people can share and exchange ideas. Perhaps a few too many: One of the biggest challenges we all face, in an era where everyone has a platform, is figuring out whom to listen to. Open platforms that once seemed radically democratizing now threaten, with the tsunami of false information we all face daily, to undermine democracy. When everyone has a megaphone, no one can be heard.
Our hope is that by listening carefully through all the noise, we can find the voices that need to be heard and elevate them for all of you.
Please pitch us your ideas! You can find more information on how to contact the new sections here.