Credit: Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

HuffPost UK is seeking to give a voice to underserved communities through two new sections that will pay contributors for their stories.

Replacing its Blogs, new Personal and Opinion sections will aim to broaden the variety of voices the publisher features and provide more impactful commentary on events around the world from those most affected by them.

Unlike the former Blogs section, both new sections will pay contributors. The website had attracted some criticism when it first launched in 2005, with its content-sourcing model that was not offering the authors much more than a byline.

However, Jimmy Leach, editor-in-chief, HuffPost UK, said that the online world has changed significantly since the Huffington Post first launched 14 years ago and it was time to move away from outdated approaches.

"At that time, which now seems almost sepia-tinted, there was no Medium for self-publishing, no Twitter for amplification, and Facebook looked like the exciting future, and not the jaded behemoth we seem lumbered with today.

"As the digital landscape shifted, so has our approach to opinion and news delivery, and we have a much greater emphasis on quality and original journalism from our own team."

"HuffPost reflects the outcomes of circumstances, policies or events. Our news section will tell you what those circumstances are, Personal and Opinion will tell you what they result in.

"Often that means those who are marginalised or unheard will feel the effects most. Policies are often written by those least affected by them, so we’re telling the stories of the unexpected outcomes, the failures of the system and what it feels like at the sharp end," said Leach.

The new sections are part of a wider effort by the organisation to promote diversity and support different communities in becoming journalists, explaining that having a newsroom focused around covering stories that matter to readers is crucial for them.

In its first few weeks alone, the Personal section has brought stories from a variety of different communities, including transgender people, those with physical and mental health conditions, and other under-represented groups.

In particular, they have recently worked alongside Birmingham City University to create the HuffPost School of Journalism, where staff from the news organisation will be sharing experiences with students, while learning from them about what stories they should be telling and in which formats.

So what makes a good pitch for these sections? Alongside being inspiring, educational or challenging, for HuffPost, authenticity is key.

"We’re looking for people whose life or work gives a unique perspective on a topic. We want those who can speak from a point of view of genuine understanding who can give us relatable and accessible points of view that will enlighten readers."

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