The Independent is bolstering its editorial team in the US as it sets its sights on closing in on Huffpost’s audience figures in the states, a month after overtaking the Guardian in the UK.
The digital-only newsbrand has appointed a US editor and Washington DC bureau chief, with plans to expand its teams in New York and Washington.
The US has been the Independent’s biggest market for the past three years, with a 40 per cent growth in unique readers and 70 per cent rise in page impressions in the past 12 months, its owner ESI Media said.
The digital-only title also quoted the latest Comscore figures that it said placed it ahead of Vice and Vox “in the pure play market” in the US and “closing in” on Huffpost.
Zach Leonard, who was appointed as the Independent’s first chief executive in November from his role as managing director of digital, is spearheading the plan as part of his remit to focus on the title’s continued expansion, particularly in North America.
He said: “The US is a critical strategic – and the largest – market for The Independent. Investing in our growth there in the run up to the 2020 election and beyond will enrich our editorial and commercial proposition for our valuable audiences, advertisers and partners.”
Katie Davies (pictured) will lead the US team as editor after six years at Mail Online in New York where she helped to grow its digital audience as homepage editor.
She previously worked on the Independent’s news desk in London between 2011 and 2012.
Davies will be joined by John Bennett, who will lead an “under-construction” team at the nation’s seat of government as Washington bureau chief and US politics editor.
He is joining from Washington news source Roll Call, where he has been White House correspondent for four years.
Richard Hall, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent in Beirut, is also set to move to become senior US correspondent based in New York.
Other New York-based roles are currently being recruited, including a climate correspondent, ESI said.
Independent editor Christian Broughton said: “As President Trump moves from impeachment to re-election campaign, and with an unprecedented focus on the climate crisis, the year ahead offers The Independent a golden opportunity to establish a reputation for truly independent, free-thinking journalism within the most dynamic news market of all.
“I can’t wait to work with Katie again, give John a broader platform on which to share his outstanding analysis, and provide Richard with a new territory for his endless energy and commitment to finding truly remarkable stories.”
In the UK, the Independent marked a “milestone” in December after Comscore figures showed it had overtaken the Guardian for its number of unique monthly visitors for the first time.