5 Minutes With Huffington Post’s Roy Sekoff

Yesterday, we helped get things moving towards SMW NYC with our partners, HuffPost Live. Covering how safeguarding free expression and an Open Internet is still a critical issue, they hosted a dynamic exchange on the current issues facing both our country and the global community, with leading thinkers, including: Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Andrew Rasiej of Personal Democracy Forum, and Christine Chen of Google and moderated by Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

Not only was it engaging and get you thinking, but it also displays the professionalism and innovation that represents HuffPost. With their use of Google+ On Air HangOuts, HuffPost Live does live integration of social media better than most.

And we’re thrilled to be partnering with them this year! SMW NYC is honored to have President and co-creator of HuffPost Live, and founding editor of Huffington Post, Roy Sekoff, join us. Before his event, get to know him a bit more:

Roy, this year, our global theme is “Open & Connected: Principles for a Collaborative World.” How does The Huffington Post embody or support this idea?
HuffPost thrives precisely because our staff is utterly committed to all three of these attributes. Openness and transparency are core principles at HuffPost – both culturally and editorially. We are obsessively connected – which is good, because collaboration is the lifeblood of what we do. Rare is the email or GChat that isn’t rapidly – and creatively responded to.

The publishing industry is undergoing change overall; and the Huffington Post has been a leader in that. Where do you see the future of journalism and publishing heading?
HuffPost has been around for almost 8 years. In that time, we have seen the rapid rise of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and so many other game-changing products. We adapted and incorporated them all into what we do, but can’t say that we saw them coming. So, in a time like this, one rife with innovation, trying to look into a crystal ball and divine the future seems like a fool’s game.

The Huffington Post has continued to innovate, making waves in social video. How is the development of HuffPost Live leading the way and where do you see social video heading?
With HuffPost Live, we have placed our bet on people’s growing desire to engage with the news – on the shift from presentation to participation. They want to help shape the stories – and the issues – of our time. HuffPost Live was designed as a platform for engagement – one that puts our users front and center in what we do.

What has been the biggest success from HuffPost Live?
Because of our commitment to engagement, we are proudest of our engagement metrics, which confirm that we have created a unique and addictive social and community offering. Over 6,500 guests have joined us from all over the world via Skype and Google Hangouts. Over 750,000 comments have been left on the HuffPost Live platform (with many more left on HuffPost stories that have HuffPost Live videos embedded in them). And our users are spending over 15 minutes on the site per visit.

As more news and media outlets rely upon citizen journalism, how can the issue of accuracy and accountability be adapted? What recommendations would you have for smaller outlets just getting started?
Accuracy and accountability are vital. For us, that means doing everything we can to assure the accuracy of what we publish, and moving quickly and transparently to correct any mistakes that are made.

Advertorials have come under scrutiny lately, and we’re seeing many outlets experiment with different revenue models. What trends are you seeing for media and entertainment outlets maintaining a profit?
As the old models plateau, brands are clearly looking for fresh ways to reach consumers. And it’s important for publishers to try to lead the way in that innovation – but it’s critical not to blur the lines. Consumers value high-quality content, whether it comes from publishers or advertisers, but they should never be confused about the source. Our key touchstones are authenticity and transparency.

What are you most excited about for SMW NYC?
Thursday’s session on “The Shift from Presentation to Participation.” It will be a great discussion.

We couldn’t agree more. A big thanks to Roy for taking the time to talk with us. Make sure you check him out in-person this SMW NYC or join via livestream!