French-only Huffington Post Quebec launches
American new-media mogul Arianna Huffington launched Quebec's very own edition of the online news website Wednesday, making Canada the first country to have two versions of the Huffington Post.
"For us to be able to cover Canada properly, we need to also cover Quebec—with its own identity, its own culture, its own language and its incredible vibrancy around creativity," she told reporters in Montreal after addressing a business luncheon.
Le Huffington Post Quebec is the company's second foreign-language operation. It follows a French edition unveiled in Paris last month, a version that is expected to share content with the Quebec edition.
"We promise that Le Huffington Post Quebec is going to be all in French and is going to be all about the things that matter to Quebecers in terms of culture, identity," Huffington told around 500 people during a 25-minute speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.
Huffington said the website will be a powerful collaborator with the HuffPost's eight-month-old Canadian venture.
The venture has already had to deal with one distinct headache.
The company's Quebec edition made headlines recently when several left-leaning politicians and activists who had signed on to write blogs for free reportedly quit amid controversy. The free blogs drew criticism that the contributions would weaken local journalism and drive down worker salaries.
Huffington called this issue a misunderstanding of the Huffington Post and blogging in general.
She said that millions of people around the world blog for free, including contributors to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
"This is just the nature of the Internet," Huffington said. "People who want to express their views, who want to be heard, will use any platform.
"I was on multiple radio shows this morning, I'm here with you because you're providing me with a platform to express my views—you're not paying me."
AOL bought the Huffington Post last March for US$315 million, a deal that prompted one of its bloggers, Jonathan Tasini, to sue the companies for not paying freelance contributors while earning financial benefits from their work.
With files from The Canadian Press.