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Exclusive: HuffPost hires Punjabi as director for Voices relaunch

Photo collage of Rajul Punjabi with abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Erik Kantar

HuffPost has hired Rajul Punjabi as the director of HuffPost Voices, a relaunched section that will promote young Black, Asian, women, queer and Latino writers and other communities, Axios reports.

Why it matters: The HuffPost Voices relaunch is a strategic move by the BuzzFeed-owned media company to grow its revenue by inking sponsorship deals with brands aiming to appeal to diverse communities.

  • After shedding millions under Verizon, HuffPost is now profitable.

Details: Punjabi comes from Mic, where she served as senior editor of its lifestyle section, and previously was Vice's senior health editor. She also is on the journalism faculty at City College in New York and used to be a HuffPost contributor.

  • Punjabi starts Tuesday and will report to Kate Palmer, HuffPost's executive editor.
  • "I think there's an enormous thirst for identity content right now, and it's not the identity content of 10 years ago or five years ago or even yesterday," Punjabi tells Axios.
  • "It's nuanced, specific, and I like to call it very gray because thinking about who we are and the identities that we represent, they're not black and white. It's not going to be this monolithic experience," she says.

Of note: HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton, who was hired in March 2021, announced the relaunch at BuzzFeed's upfront event last month.

  • "Voices will feature vibrant, fun, inspirational content written by people from historically marginalized spaces, offering advertisers a great way to reach a valuable and massive audience segment," Belton said at the upfront.

How it works: HuffPost Voices will relaunch with five sections — Black Voices, Latino Voices, Asian Voices, Queer Voices and Women — and cover other communities including people with disabilities, indigenous people and Muslim Americans.

  • Punjabi will recruit freelancers to HuffPost Voices and may also hire new staff writers. Unlike the site's former model of unpaid contributors, freelancers for the section will be compensated.
  • "I wouldn't even consider any position without knowing that everyone would be respected, especially in an industry where Black and brown people are undervalued," she says.
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