Award-winning former Huffpost and Buzzfeed journalists are among 17 new appointments at the i following a round of “big investment in original journalism” from owner DMGT.
Six more positions are still being advertised, taking the size of the i newsroom over the 100 mark. It started its journey away from former sister paper The Independent in 2016, when it was bought by Johnston Press, with 12 journalists.
Aasma Day, who was North of England correspondent at Huffpost UK until more than a dozen journalists were made redundant last month when new owners Buzzfeed culled the news team, has been named Northern correspondent.
Day said she was “delighted to become part of such a trusted news brand which believes in quality journalism with integrity.
“Love everything they do now and all their aspirations for the future.”
Huffpost UK executive editor for politics Paul Waugh has stayed at the site, which is still running politics, entertainment and lifestyle sections. But he will begin writing a fortnightly column for iweekend with an “in-depth or sideways look at the political agenda”.
Patrick Strudwick was LGBT editor at Buzzfeed UK between 2015 and 2020 but was also made redundant last year when Buzzfeed closed its dedicated UK news operation.
Strudwick, who won the Specialist Journalism prize at the 2018 British Journalism Awards, is joining the i as a special correspondent focusing on original investigations, scoops, features, interviews, comment and on-the-ground reporting from “across Britain and beyond”.
He said the i is a “fantastic, fast-growing newspaper with the highest of editorial standards, a phenomenally talented team, and huge ambitions.
“To join at this time of expansion and to be able to draw on my background of original, hard-hitting journalism but applied across a wide breadth of subjects affecting Britain and beyond is a role I’m privileged to take on.”
i editor Oly Duff (pictured) said Day and Strudwick were appointed as data shows readers “appear to value our news exclusives”. He added that Day was a “key hire as we develop coverage in the North of England, home to lots of readers”.
On the foreign desk, Emma Reynolds, currently foreign editor for Australia’s news.com.au, has been appointed in the same role at the i.
Foreign editor Michael Day will become chief foreign commentator, providing “foreign news analysis reacting to the agenda, as well as longer reads on world affairs, science and health”.
A restructure of the i this spring has merged print and digital for the first time and created three main desks: politics, breaking and national.
Sun assistant news editor Richard Wheatstone is joining the i as assistant national editor, leading the national team’s focus on expert specialist reporting, investigations, series and analysis.
The breaking news desk has appointed four news reporters: City AM politics and coronavirus correspondent Poppy Wood, PA reporter Taz Ali who will assist with foreign coverage, US-based freelance Hugo Daniel, and Guardian journalist Molly Blackall.
They will be tasked with bringing “depth, speed and differentiation” to the i’s news coverage via stories and explainers, alongside their own original reporting.
The i has also created two new audience executive roles focused on building deeper reader relationships across every platform, helping readers find i journalism through search and social, analysing audience data, and contributing to commissioning.
The roles have been filled by Aaliyah Harris, who has worked for FT Weekend Magazine and CNN International in the past year, and Insider social media fellow Kate Hutchison.
Other appointments include:
- Former freelance Rachel Mantock as a features writer
- Former Independent lifestyle reporter Emily Cope as a writer for iweekend
- Former freelance Kat Lucas as a sports journalist
- Oliver Young-Myles, formerly a sports reporter for Metro and Sky Sports, as a sports journalist.
Internally, app editor Harry Robertson has taken on the role of i homepage editor to lead a renewed focus to promote the best i journalism to readers at all times, while Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith has been named assistant breaking news editor.
Six roles are still being advertised: audience editor, iweekend news features editor, visual data journalist, assistant opinion editor, political reporter, and digital sub-editor.
The i also last week introduced BBC Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett as its new weekend columnist, writing initially on a monthly basis on culture, politics, feminism and social issues.
DMGT bought the i in late November 2019 but continued to operate it separately from the Mail and Metro titles until six months later – just before the coronavirus crisis hit. DMGT has not used the Government furlough scheme to help it through the pandemic.
Its Mail Plus online platform, which launched in October 2019 to give subscribers ad-free access to Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday content plus videos and other daily updates, is now also benefiting from investment.
It is currently advertising for an assistant editor, a comment editor to increase its comment commissioning and output, and a newsletter editor to join its growing audience team.
Former Channel 4 News political correspondent Michael Crick, who signed on at launch to host a weekly video report, has also begun writing a new weekly column on Fridays.
Mail Plus content stands apart from the Mail Online website, which is run separately from its print offering despite publishing stories from the papers at dailymail.co.uk.
According to advertising arm Mail Metro Media, Mail Plus has a “highly engaged” audience of 62,000 weekly users with more than 500,000 pages read each week.