Earlier today, Huffington Post managing editor Nico Pitney announced that he will be leaving the fast-growing news site, which was acquired by AOL last year.
While these kinds of abrupt announcements are often bred by controversy, a source tells Capital New York that Pitney’s departure is amicable; he’s reportedly leaving to relocate to San Francisco with his wife (HuffPo offices are headquartered in New York City).
26-year-old Jimmy Soni will be stepping up to take Pitney’s place. Soni is a Huffington veteran, having spent the past 9 months as the Arianna Huffington’s chief of staff. He’s also a serious scribe; Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, which he co-authored, is out on St. Marten’s-McMillan this year, and he’s a former speechwriter for the Executive Office of the Mayor of the District of Colombia.
Soni has a lot in common with the accomplished editor he’s replacing; both have a background in politics, and both are transitioning from other roles within the organization. It isn't clear whether Soni is an interim replacement, or will be taking over duties indefinitely; there's been no mention of the position being temporary.
(Of course, Gawker jumps at the chance to point out that Soni may be a little green for the high-profile job:
At one point, HuffPo was turning to seasoned journalists like BBC and Time hand Elinor Shields for the managing editor role. In recent years, however, the publication has hired M.E.s based instead on their ability to listen and withstand pressure. Having lasted three quarters of a year as Huffington's right hand, Soni clearly has that nailed.
Snarky? Yes. But accurate? We'll see!)
Pitney replaced former managing editor Jai Singh in May of 2011, when Singh became editor in chief of the Yahoo Media Network. Previously, Pitney served as managing editor of The Huffington Post; before that, he was the politics editor (and, eventually, national editor and Washington Bureau Chief), heading the section during the ’08 election year that drew millions of readers to the Post’s simple but always-sensational homepage.
The Atlantic Wire reports that Huffintgon's top technology officer, Paul Berry, also plans to leave the company in March. Berry will be reuniting with Huffington co-founder Jonah Peretti at startup Rebel Mouse.
Today's news comes after yesterday's announcement that Peretti's latest venture, Buzzfeed — a "[s]ocial media optimized and meme focused aggregator" — was granted $15.5 million in financing to develop their new media-friendly news strategy. Buzzfeed has been making headlines recently for recruiting some of the top politics and culture writers in the field, including Ben Smith (formerly of Politico), Zeke Miller (formerly of Business Insider) and Rosie Gray (formerly of The Village Voice).
Here’s the memo that went out to staffers, from co-founder and namesake Arianna Huffington:
I’m writing to let you know about some changes to our editorial team. After living in two different cities for the first year of their marriage, Nico and his wife have decided to move to San Francisco to be closer to their families, and to start a family of their own. Sadly, as a result, Nico will be stepping down as managing editor on February 3rd. In a number of roles over the years, Nico has been an integral part of HuffPost’s growth and success, and played a key leadership role following the merger. I will miss him very much. We wish him and Karina all the best as they embark on this new chapter in their lives… finally together!
Luckily, we have a very strong bench, and I am delighted to announce that Jimmy Soni will become HuffPost’s new managing editor. In his 9 months with HuffPost, Jimmy has proven himself to be a man of many talents – dedicated, highly organized, a good listener, a first-rate problem solver, and an unwaveringly upbeat and positive presence in the newsroom. Born in Toulouse, France, and a graduate of Duke University, Jimmy is tri-lingual – French, Hindi, and English – an avid marathon (and barefoot!) runner, a swing dancer, and the author of a new book coming out this fall on Cato the Younger, a Roman Senator most famous for opposing Caesar. Please join me in offering Nico our heartfelt thanks and gratitude and congratulating Jimmy on his new role.