Just two business days after it was out with the old at AOL and Huffington Post Media Group, it was in with the new, as the division created by the merger of AOL and The Huffington Post announced several new hires, including two high-profile additions — Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as strategic impact adviser, and veteran journalist John Montorio as culture and entertainment editor — as well as the promotion of HuffPost senior political editor Howard Fineman to editorial director for the group.
Huffington Post Media Group and AOL also announced the addition of two new neighborhoods in Newark to Patch, in partnership with that city’s Twitter-friendly Mayor Cory Booker, and the launch of its 30-Day Service Challenge employee volunteer initiative.
Stone will advise on social impact and cause-based initiatives, including the development of a platform to make it easier for people to perform services in their communities. He will also recruit other companies to invest in and deploy best corporate practices, and create and develop a video series spotlighting companies and executives that are stellar in philanthropy and corporate responsibility.
Montorio boasts more than 30 years of experience reporting, writing, editing, and managing news staffs, including stints with The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
In his new role, Fineman will help shape Huffington Post Media Group’s overall coverage, as well as working to integrate AOL news and information brands. He will also guide coverage of the upcoming presidential campaign coverage, continuing to report for HuffPost, and retaining his role as an analyst for NBC and MSNBC.
Other new editorial hires across Huffington Post Media Group:
White House correspondent Jennifer Bendery, who had been covering The White House and House and Senate Leadership for Roll Call for the past three years;
Culture/style reporter Caroline Dworin, who had been a regular contributor to the City section of The New York Times and appeared in anthology More New York Stories: The Best of the City Section of The New York Times;
Workplace reporter Dave Jamieson, who formerly covered transportation issues for TBD;
General assignment writer Saki Knafo, who previously wrote for The New York Times Magazine, New York magazine, The Believer, GQ, and Publishers Weekly;
News editor Simone Landon, who had been producer of Morning Edition for Rhode Island Public Radio;
Real estate editor Catherine New, whose work has been published by The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Metro Newspaper, Flavorpill.com, Men’s Vogue, and Psychology Today;
And four new Jefferson young journalists: Katherine Bindley, who graduated from Georgetown University and was a regular contributor to The New York Times City section, as culture/style reporter; Laura Gottesdiener, who graduated from Yale University and was a staff writer for The Brooklyn Paper, as lifestyle reporter; Joy Resmovits, who graduated from Barnard College and has been at The Jewish Daily Forward since 2010, as education reporter; and Laura Stampler, who graduated from Stanford University and has written for The New Republic, The Nation, and The Miami Herald, as lifestyle reporter.
Stone, who had been AOL News’ senior Washington correspondent, is now senior national correspondent; new social impact reporter Wagner had been White House correspondent for Politics Daily; and new military defense correspondent Wood has more than 30 years of experience covering the sector, including for TIME magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Newhouse News Service, and the Baltimore Sun.
HuffPost and AOL sites also went live Monday with the first phase of user feature integration, including the “Most Popular Articles” widget on AOL.com and HuffPost’s “Most Popular” widget featuring content from AOL and HuffPost sites. HuffPost will also feature hyperlocal content from Patch.
And Huffington Post Media Group and AOL announced the “30-Day Service Challenge,” pushing employees to volunteer in their communities, with staffers beginning to volunteer starting today. Employees of The Huffington Post Media Group and AOL will be helping throughout their local communities, and leading up to AOL’s “Monster Help Day” May 20, its second-annual employee-wide focused day of service.
Huffington Post Media Group president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington said:
I’m delighted to announce 11 new journalists joining our expanding editorial and reporting teams, along with the six we announced last week. I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome John Montorio, one of the industry’s most respected editors, as our culture and entertainment editor. Since one of our key goals is to explore and spotlight innovative ways that our company — as well as others — can do good, I’m thrilled that Biz Stone will be our strategic partner in this important endeavor. A focus on service is central to our DNA, so our 30-Day Service Challenge for employees will be matched by sitewide HuffPost coverage of people and organizations that are giving back. And as we are taking steps to expand and deepen our local coverage, I want to thank Mayor Cory Booker for his enthusiastic support of Patch’s latest two neighborhood news sites in Newark.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong added:
The scope of the Huffington Post Media Group’s new initiatives — from 17 impressive new journalism hires in just over one week and an expansion of Patch into Newark to a month-long volunteer challenge for all AOL employees — demonstrates our companies’ combined eagerness to hit the ground running following the rapidly executed merger. I’m especially thrilled that Biz Stone will be helping us to refine one of our core goals: using innovative approaches to do good and give back while putting a spotlight on solutions.
The definition of success is changing as we begin to understand the value of helping others. Arianna and Tim share my vision for aligning corporate resources toward meaningful change. My goal in partnering with AOL and the Huffington Post Media Group is ambitious but vitally important. Together, we will rally companies to think about new ways of doing business, share best practices, and strive for positive impact at all levels, from global to local.
Bringing Patch to Newark is an exciting next step in informing, engaging, and inspiring our community with the news and information they need every day. I’m thrilled to welcome Patch to our neighborhoods, and I’m certain the sites will be a terrific asset for everyone who lives, works, volunteers, and raises families here. Information helps build communities, and bringing Patch to Newark will be a great thing for our city.
And Patch president Warren Webster added:
Patch has invested heavily in New Jersey — in fact, it was where we launched our first three sites in 2009. We are very excited to work closely with Mayor Booker to bring neighborhood journalism, information, and social interactivity to one of America’s great cities.