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Happy Birthday, HuffPost Spain!

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A journalism that doesn't defend its right to offend, that doesn't tweak noses and laugh at the naked emperor is not worth fighting for. A journalism that doesn't stand up for the powerless will soon become a tool of power. Equally, a journalism that wrecks lives will soon find itself without readers.

Journalism should be a celebration of life in all its vibrant, chaotic, exuberant variety. It calls people to come out to the circus. It's ruined by pretension and high-mindedness. Journalists are not there to pronounce absolution on a fallen world. They're not there to call us to a better life. They are there to show us who we are and how we live.

I could say it a thousand different ways, but not better.

When I'm asked what The Huffington Post is, what kind of journalism we practice or what our mission is, I always keep in mind those words, said by journalist, essayist, historian, and former Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff in Madrid when he received the Francisco Cerecedo Prize for Journalism in November. HuffPost Spain just celebrated its first anniversary, and now we know that our intuition was right: there was a space in the Spanish-language digital-media universe -- which is growing fast -- for a provocative, ironic online newspaper that covers current events and isn't afraid to do it in a different, new way. An outlet that seeks to tell us who we are and how we live without arrogance; which takes digs at the powerful without cowardice; which gives voice to the weak rather than criminalizing or demeaning them; which understands the emotional component of news without falling into sensationalism; and which wagers that journalistic rigor is not incompatible with a sense of humor.

It falls upon journalists to report on these hard and complex times, an era in which the most vulnerable are used as fodder. This year's headlines were stinging: the drama of strikes, the exile of our youth, the evictions, the appearance of malnourished children in our schools, the increase in inequality and poverty, the spending cuts in education and health, the undermining of civil rights. It's our job to tell it all, and to do it free of political rhetoric's tired euphemisms. HuffPost's real contribution is that journalists are no longer the only ones that tell this story, even though our beautiful and draining profession is essential -- and will continue to be so.

Over the course of this year, some 400 bloggers have written on HuffPost about what's happening in Spain, in first person: scientists and students, politicians and economists, comedians and writers, engineers and filmmakers, artists and doctors, chefs and judges, journalists, miners, professors, activists, and intellectuals -- all of them have invited us in nearly 2,000 posts to reflect and debate. Their blogs put forth an idea that's then disseminated among readers, many of whom -- the vibrant HuffPost community -- comment on articles and share them on social media, and their zeal incites and enriches the debate. In one year, readers posted 500,000 comments. Telling, opining, or analyzing what is happening is no longer the job exclusively of journalists or of daily columnists: on HuffPost, anyone is invited to do it, just as they are on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you, bloggers; thank you, readers. HuffPost Spain would be impossible without you.

Blogs and social media are the DNA of the HuffPost, just as they are the new tools of online information-sharing, something unimaginable just a few years ago: links to other sites to highlight and recognize their best work; live feeds that allow us to cover major events in real time, updated to the minute; debates, votes, and surveys that offer value-added to information; galleries that recognize the best Tweets, videos, or photos of big stories. These are the new tools that young and committed journalists know how to use to ply their trade alongside the traditions of our profession -- perseverance, a nose for news, discernment -- all of which are epitomized by the news that HuffPost publishes every day.

"This is a country that's sick with solemnity," I've heard my colleague Carles Francino say on various occasions. We don't aspire to be solemn or to save this failing world or to teach lessons. We're passionate about telling you what's going on, uncovering information that some people don't want known, and sharing what entertains us most from this globalized world. And we love to hear what readers want to tell us.

More than 2.8 million unique visits in the month of May, according to Omniture (and more than 1.7 million monthly users, per Comscore's estimate) show us that we were right when we took the gamble of an innovative project like HuffPost Spain, which now has 70,000 Facebook fans and 121,000 Twitter followers. For all of you millions out there, we've created a special first anniversary page, and we invite you to check it out if you're curious to know more about HuffPost, much more than what I could fit into this post. We love to read -- and see videos of -- your commentaries, criticism, and reflections.

This year, the Huffington Post brand has been extended and expanded, and we've added Italy and Japan to our roster of editions in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and France. Soon it will be Germany's turn, and we'll just keep on growing from there. All our papers share news, content, and the same spirit, but the personality of each is different in every country -- which is what has made us the most global of all online media.

We've still got a lot to do. Together. Thank you, everyone.

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