O'Brien joins The Huffington Post in the newly created position of National Editor, where he'll oversee a team of reporters across politics and culture. He'll also work with Goodman, the site's Executive Business Editor, in business coverage and plans to write features and columns.
Co-founder Arianna Huffington, reached by phone from Chile, described O'Brien as a "world-class editor who can bring out the best in writers."
Huffington believes "the future of journalism is hybrid" -- merging traditional and new media -- and hopes an experienced editor like O'Brien can help mentor the growing ranks of web-native reporters producing original content for the news and aggregation site. "The difference that makes is extraordinary," Huffington said, noting that Goodman has also served the role of mentor since coming aboard.
"There's nothing more fun than communicating with young, hungry reporters who want to learn the craft and want to aspire to do big , meaty, compelling stories," O'Brien said. "I love that dynamic. It's very much like being a teacher."
O'Brien said he was excited by the idea of working at a digital-only publication and hopes that he can help the Huffington Post "get to the next level journalistically."
Still, O'Brien had only good things to say about his soon-to-be-previous employer. "I love it here at the Times," he said. "I think amid all the chatter about the demise of newspapers, and the reality that some indeed have fallen by the wayside, I think what the Times does is really robust, authoritative, exciting and not to be trifled with."
Huffington has been a fan of O'Brien's work at the Times. She described her new hire as having "a real commitment to accountability journalism" and pointed to the Times series on the roots of the financial crisis, "The Reckoning," as one example. (That series won a prestigious Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism).
Goodman, who worked on "The Reckoning," said in a statement that O'Brien's "a ceaseless source of fresh ideas, a critical thinker, and a rigorous taskmaster when it comes to nailing down the facts."
"More than that, he is relentlessly geared toward uncovering the larger truths that lie beneath the day-to-day events of the news," Goodman continued. "He will be an inspiration in our growing newsroom."
The Huffington Post has put more resources in to original reporting in recent years, both in New York and Washington D.C.—the latter now boasting a bureau that includes both young, standout reporters like Sam Stein and ex-Newsweek veteran Howard Fineman (who joined the same week that Goodman did).
Like Fineman and Goodman, O'Brien also joins Huffington Post from a print media background. He started at the Times in 1997, but left in 2000 to join Tina Brown's glitzy Talk magazine. In 2002, he returned after Talk's demise as a business writer and has overseen the paper's Sunday Business section since 2006.
O'Brien's also written two non-fiction books, on the gambling industry and real estate mogul Donald Trump. He's currently working on a serious of mystery novels set between the Civil War and World War II.
(Photo of Arianna Huffington in Sept. 2010: AP /Mark Lennihan, file)
- Arianna Huffington
- Tina Brown
- Donald Trump
- World War II