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Just over one year ago L'Huffington Post, which is based in the offices of Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica in Rome, was launched as an Italian edition of the Huffington Post.

The site followed in the footsteps of a number of other Huffington Post country-specific editions across the world when it launched last year. Previous launches included the UK, Spain and France.

Many of the editions operate on a partnership model between the Huffington Post and a local media outlet. In France, for example, Le Huffington Post works with Le Monde, while the Spanish version partners with El Pais.

The Italian edition followed suit, with around half of the current editorial workforce at L'Huffington Post having joined from La Repubblica's website team.

One such journalist is Giulia Belardelli, who Journalism.co.uk met during a recent visit to the Rome headquarters of Gruppo L'Espresso, which publishes daily newspaper La Repubblica and weekly magazine L'Espresso, among its other media operations on a local and national level.

The editorial process

The working day starts at around 7am for the team at L'Huffington Post, Belardelli said, with the first step to take a look at national and international newspapers and news websites, before carrying out some curation.

The team then focuses on producing its own content, with the homepage 'splash' changed every few hours, although this can, at times, be updated on an hourly basis, Belardelli said.

The staff also regularly liaise with other editions of the Huffington Post, meaning each one site can benefit from the local expertise of another. For example, events taking place within one country may be of interest to outside editions, in which case the relationship between them can prove valuable.

"We connect a lot in terms of content," Belardelli said. This involves not just keeping up to date with what the other sites are publishing, she explained, but also promoting one other's content, and sharing information and support.

"We try to make it more global and connected," she said. "We try to help each other." In recent weeks, for example, Belardelli said she had assisted a UK edition editor in translating a Facebook post in Italian.

The team members also check-in with the Huffington Post in the US, she said, adding that several contacts there act as "the interface between different editions".

And the edition journalists can also help the US team offer their audience local perspectives. Belardelli, for example, recently took part in HuffPost Live, the online video show run live from the US, which sees those outside the organisation taking part using video chat. She was able to give more context and updates on the recent Costa Concordia salvage for HuffPost Live viewers.

But, she added, in terms of the day-to-day running of L'Huffington Post, it is "completely independent of La Repubblica and Huffington Post".

Content and social strategy

The style of reporting at L'Huffington Post, aims to offer content which goes beyond the facts and to give an "interpretation of the news", with added analysis, comment and "different opinions", where appropriate.

Belardelli explained, for example, that politics and economics news in particular, often give the team an opportunity to provide readers with more than "a simple chronicle" of the events.

She also enjoys the ability to "be a bit creative" with headline writing and the use of powerful top story delivery on the homepage with 'splashes'. "It's fun but also challenging," she said. "I really like the idea of being creative".

"You can be serious... without being boring", she added. "This is the balance you have to find."

The newsroom of around 12 members of staff includes a social media editor, and the site is active on Facebook, where, at the time of writing, its company page has 167,031 likes, and Twitter, where it has more than 100,000 followers.

The team is just "trying different strategies in social media and seeing what works best," Belardelli said.

Twitter is "growing fast" in Italy, she added, and so its use by the newsroom is developing alongside that growth. Instead of it serving as "an alternative homepage", they hope to offer more engagement through "interaction with readers", she said.

The latest traffic figures for the site, shared by the team, were said to show an average of 150,000 daily unique browsers, and between 2.5 to 3 million visitors a month, with page views said to average 1 million a day.

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