Bienvenue, Le Huffington Post Québec!
Like other international HuffPo launches, Le Huffington Post Québec (HPQ) is a partnership with a local media company, Bell Canada and its agency Media Experts. But unlike the other publicized spin-offs and verticals, HPQ conspicuously lacks a celebrity editor or blogger.
Even if you were familiar with Québec intelligentsia, you probably wouldn’t find them on HPQ’s masthead. Last week, the Montreal Gazette reported that at least nine high-profile lefty intellectuals, activists, artists and politicians had pulled out of the project after committing to it, amid criticism that blogging for free for AOL meant selling out to a major corporation and undermining local journalism.
Among the Huff Post turncoats: Amir Khadir, Steven Guilbeault, Normand Baillargeon, Françoise David, Évelyne de la Chenelière, Jean Barbe, Philippe Couillard, Bernard Drainville and Pierre Curzi.
HPQ is taking it all in stride, for now.
“Frankly, the controversy we received helped us, in a way,” managing editor Patrick White told the Gazette. “A lot of other bloggers came to see us because of that, journalists came to work for us because of that and at the end of the day it was a positive for us, because the Huffington brand is much better known now and less obscure.”
In late November, a poll found that 82% of Quebecers had never heard of the Huffington Post.