2015 has been a big year for The Huffington Post and its founder. The publication celebrated its 10th annversary in May, right as mobile phone giant Verizon bought AOL, its parent company.
At the time, there was a lot of speculation that Verizon was mainly interested in AOL’s ad technology, and was planning to spin out The Huffington Post and other properties like TechCrunch.
That couldn’t be further from the truth, Huffington told Business Insider.
“It hasn’t changed anything for us. From the beginning, we had a lot of conversations about editorial independence and that’s been absolutely honored, and Verizon has made additional investments. We have a new ability to make both capital and operational investments. It’s really good for us.”
Huffington, who placed 21 on this year’s SAI 100 list of the top 100 movers and shakers in New York tech, spent a lot of the year collecting new talent from the tech world. In August, the Huffington Post hired Jared Grusd away from Spotify to become the publication’s new CEO, and in September Liz Heron left Facebook to become HuffPo’s executive editor.
Her partial inspiration? Microsoft cofounder and mega-philanthropist Bill Gates.
Last month, Bill Gates posted a quiz on his web site in which the answers subtly pointed to the fact that things are getting a lot better, for a lot of people, around the globe. For example, the number of children who die under age 5 has been cut in half since 1990, and the worldwide HIV infection rate is down 40% since 2000.
But the media never covers those stories, instead focusing on the “if it leads, it bleeds” mentality.
“We announced the initiative at an event that Bill and Melinda hosted in Davos,” Huffington says. “My commitment was to focus on solutions” related to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which propose to reduce poverty and disease dramatically.
HuffPo’s new section has been a hit with readers, Huffington says, and has also been a great demonstration of the publication’s “global newsroom” — coverage is being driven in part by HuffPo Germany editor-in-chief Sebastian Matthes, and the organisation hired Jo Confino away from UK publication The Guardian to be the editor-in-chief of What’s Working.
Her other obsession: Turning off her devices to get more sleep
Huffington has also been working on a new book, due next April, that will explain how lack of sleep negatively impacts all our lives and what we can do to change it.
One of the biggest things is not to start and end our days by staring at our phones.
“The most important thing I do is completely turn off all my devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep and escort them out of bedroom. I charge them away from my bedroom. That gives me at least 30 minutes where I can read real books — the blue light [emitted by most devices] is very much interfering with ability to slow down, you have to change brain waves so you can go to sleep. There’s amazing science that confirms all that. Then, when I wake up in morning, I take a minute — it doesn’t have to be more than a minute — and set my intention for day, remember what I’m grateful for, rather than immediately looking at my phone.”
She says that Golden State Warriors player Andre Igoudala told her that his performance dramatically improved once he started getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night, and says the rest of us should pay more attention to our own sleep and health.
“Right now, we take better care of our smartphones than ourselves. We know how much charge remains on our phones, but we’re not always aware where we’re at.”
This brings us, inevitably, to politics — the area where the Huffington Post made its initial splash.
When Business Insider asked her what she hoped to see from President Obama in his remaining year or so in office, she answered without hesitation:
“Now that Obamacare seems to be saved from Republican attemps to dismantle it, make it better by focusing on prevention. It’s really going to be impossible to solve the health care crisis without people making lifestyle changes, focusing on more prevention and early diagnosis.”
She cites Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos — who topped our Silicon Valley 100 list earlier this year — as an example of an innovator who she believes deserves more help from the government.
In particular, Huffington says, Obama and the administration should loosen regulations to ease the way to market for Theranos’s technology, which purports to be able to test for diseases, quickly, with just a tiny drop of blood.
“It could be an incredible democratization of health care. It’s very innovative, very much where the future can go.
As far as the Republican field goes, she thinks that most media outlets are making a mistake by covering Donald Trump in their “Politics” sections.
“I love the fact that we made the decision to cover him in Entertainment. Every day there’s more evidence that that was the right decision,” she told Business Insider.
“He already had his Sarah Palin moment,” she says, referring to the recent incident in New Hampshire where Trump refused to correct a questioner who said that President Obama was not born in the United States, a position that Trump was very vocal about in 2012. “He crossed a line of legitimacy that in the end will hurt him. How long the end is, I don’t know.”
She also thinks Ben Carson’s newfound popularity will fade. Instead, she thinks Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina (“she’s running a very good, very disciplined campaign”), John Kasich, and Marco Rubio are “the survivors we’re going to see” as the Republican nomination grows closer next year.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.