Covering Crises By the Minute

An interview with Kathleen Miles M.A. ’09, senior editor of The Huffington Post’s new The WorldPost, was only a minute old before its notes had to be altered. What began with a litany of major crises confronting her as an international journalist — the Ukraine, ISIS, Ebola, Israel/Gaza, Central American immigrant children to the United States — had to be amended to include yet another, a takeover of the airport in Tripoli, Libya. “That just happened this morning,” she said on her day off. “This is definitely an interesting time in international news. Conflicts are happening not between nations, but between factions of people. Those stories aren’t always easy to tell.”

Telling those stories in a deep and compelling way — trying to define a new era of serious journalism in an impatient online world where clicks write checks — is the challenge of The WorldPost, The Huffington Post’s revamped international news site. The WorldPost, launched this past January, is a joint venture of Arianna Huffington and the Berggruen Institute of Governance. The world site features an editorial board, advisory council and contributors, all with serious wattage — including former prime ministers such as Tony Blair and Nicolas Sarkozy; tech movers and shakers including Google’s Eric Schmidt and Tesla/Space X’s Elon Musk; and journalists Walter Isaacson and Fareed Zakaria.

Miles draws a distinction between between The WorldPost and that of some other international news outlets. “Rather than the usual Western perspective from talking heads in Washington or London, we want a global perspective. So we feature first-person commentary from around the world,” Miles says. “If it’s about Ukraine, we get Ukranian voices on the ground. We have authoritative bloggers as well as blogs from civilian writers – to get the whole picture.”

While earning a graduate degree in education at LMU, Miles participated in Teach For America in South Los Angeles. But the Pasadena native comes from a family of writers, and that passion led her to a job at NPR affiliate KPCC before writing for The Huffington Post and now editing The WorldPost.

“On the news side, we provide breaking updates to every crisis,” she said. “Then on the analysis side, we want to take a step back and ask: Why are these conflicts happening? Are they related? Who are the players? What are possible solutions?

“Some of the important topics we cover don’t have a breaking news hook; they’re ongoing — economic inequality, privacy vs. Big Data, what jobs will look like in the future. But these stories can have a huge impact. I have a very positive view of our readership; they seem to seek out stories on overall trends of where the world is headed.

“In other words, we’re aiming to put news events in the context of the big picture. We want to connect the dots.”

John Burnes M.F.A. ’96 is president of Burnes Creative, a marketing communications company specializing in nonprofits. He lives in Playa del Rey, California.