The publisher Arianna Huffington is creating a media platform for Tony Blair, along with other members of the global elite including former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
The World Post, a global digital product, is a joint venture between the founder of news website The Huffington Post and the billionaire financier Nicolas Berggruen, who is known as the “homeless billionaire” because he likes to live in hotels.
Mr Blair is an adviser to Mr Berggruen’s Berggruen Institute on Governance, as a member of its “Council for the Future of Europe”. Nathan Gardels, senior adviser to the Institute, will be the editor-in-chief of the World Post.
The Institute’s “21st Century Council” includes influential figures such as Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, all of whom are expected to contribute to the World Post.
Blair and Papandreou are to take part in video contributions on the subject of Europe’s youth unemployment crisis.
Ms Huffington, an arch networker, said that the new venture would not be exclusively a platform for the famous and powerful. “There is a need for a purely online global publication that brings together the influential voices of the Berggruen Institute – global thinkers, Nobel Laureates – with all the new voices, the young people around the world who don’t have as big a platform,” she said. “My mission for the World Post is to have that global conversation.”
She predicted that the World Post would feature “all those heads of state and major business people, etcetera etcetera, writing right next to an unemployed man from Spain, a student from Brazil”.
Mr Berggruen, an avid art collector, said the World Post would be about more than policy. Early contributions are expected from the Dalai Lama, the architect Frank Gehry and the cellist Yo-yo Ma. “Culture is much bigger than politics,” he said.
Although the World Post will have its own site and will be given a grand launch at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month it will also be the world section of the Huffington Post. It will be free to access and supported by advertising. Aimed at a worldwide audience, Ms Huffington hopes that it will rapidly achieve 12m unique monthly users. Some 42 per cent of the Huffington Post audience of 94m uniques comes from outside of the United States.
Mr Omidyar – who like Mr Schmidt will be on the World Post editorial board and will help submit ideas and contacts for the site – recently provided $50m to help launch the investigative journalism project First Look Media with the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Mr Berggruen said: “There is a group of people who really believe in quality media and are willing to invest in it, not because it is going to be the best investment in the world, but because they believe in the power of media,” he said. “Media is still one way people get news and ideas and can influence change.” But the financier said he still expected the World Post to generate a profit. “It has to be profitable to be sustainable,” added Ms Huffington.
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