Danielle Belton departs the Root to take top job at Huffington Post

    The Root editor-in-chief will head to the media outlet that has been without a top editor for a year

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    It took some time but The Huffington Post has a new editor-in-chief. Danielle Belton of The Root will take over at the media outlet, per multiple reports.

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    Belton, the current editor-in-chief at The Root, confirmed the news on social media today.

    According to an internal memo obtained by The Daily Beast, Belton was tapped to replace Lydia Polgreen, the former EIC who left for Gimlet Media, Spotify’s podcasting outlet, in March of last year. Former executive editor Hillary Frey ran it day to day in the absence of an editor-in-chief until she left in the wave of layoffs earlier this month. The memo says Belton earned the gig on the strength of the growth of The Root during her tenure there.

    “I wanted to share some exciting news with you. To be totally transparent – we were going to announce this tomorrow, but are accelerating plans because we have a leak. I’m pleased to announce that Danielle Belton is the new Editor-in-Chief of HuffPost,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in the email sent out to staffers. Buzzfeed purchased HuffPo last November.

    Danielle Belton thegrio.com
    (Credit: BuzzFeed)

    “Danielle joins us from The Root, where she is currently its first-ever Editor-in-Chief. As EIC, and previously the site’s youngest managing editor, she helped dramatically expand the newsroom’s profile, traffic, and league of talented writers.”

    Belton, a St. Louis, Missouri native according to her LinkedIn bio, has been at the helm of The Root since 2016. Prior to that, she was the editor-at-large for Clutch Magazine and creator of The Black Snob blog. She earned a degree in English and journalism at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.

    During her time at The Root, traffic on the site grew by 300% and it now reaches 10-12 million readers per month.

    Belton will likely be expected to turn around the fortunes of HuffPo, once the darling of the online media world. Since its acquisition by Buzzfeed, it’s had to lay off 47 staffers and close its Canadian bureau, according to the NY Times.

    “We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home,” the HuffPo union, part of The Writer’s Guild of America East, which represented 33 of the laid-off workers, said in a statement to the Times.

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    Buzzfeed says that even with the layoffs, the HuffPost newsroom is still larger. Belton will be tasked with figuring out an editorial plan that will stem the losses that have been approximately $20M each year for the last two years. She is expected to report to Mark Schoofs, Buzzfeed‘s current editor-in-chief per the Times.

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