Kara Swisher

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Yahoo Keeps Up Hiring–Rob Barrett Named as Head of News and Finance

Yahoo is on a bit of a hiring spree, picking up longtime Internet exec Robertson Barrett (pictured here), to run its critical and powerful Yahoo News and Finance sites.

Barrett has held top positions at Tribune Interactive, Time Inc., ABC News, Primedia’s Channel One Interactive and The Feedroom.

Barrett worked most recently as chief strategy officer of Perfect Market, a Comcast-backed start-up.

Last week, Yahoo announced that Jai Singh will join the company as editor in chief. Before that Ken Fuchs was tapped as VP of Sports, Games and Entertainment.

For the huge Yahoo News job, Barrett replaces Mark Walker, who left for Disney a month ago. Steve Schultz left the top Yahoo Finance job last fall.

Here is Yahoo’s official press release, which confirms it and the particulars:

Yahoo! Names Robertson Barrett Vice President of News and Finance

Media Industry Vet to Oversee Company’s Category-Leading Properties

Yahoo! today announced that Robertson Barrett will join the company as Vice President of News and Finance. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., Barrett starts May 16, and will report to Mickie Rosen, senior vice president of the Yahoo! Media Network.

A media industry veteran, Barrett brings more than 20 years experience leading online ventures and as a reporter, including senior positions at Tribune Interactive, Time Inc., ABC News, Primedia’s Channel One Interactive, and The Feedroom. His appointment is the latest addition to the Yahoo! Media Network leadership team, which recently announced that Jai Singh will join the company as Editor-in-Chief, and Ken Fuchs as Vice President of Sports, Games and Entertainment.

Barrett will oversee Yahoo! News and Yahoo! Finance in the U.S., two of the company’s most renowned properties. In the U.S., the Yahoo! News Network is No. 1 in the general news category, attracting 86.6 million unique users in March 2011 and Yahoo! Finance has been the top finance destination for 39 straight months, attracting 42.6 million users in March 2011–more than twice as many unique visitors as the No. 2 destination Dow Jones & Company (comScore).

“Rob’s addition to our leadership team comes at a pivotal time for Yahoo! News and Yahoo! Finance, especially in light of the global and economic events driving massive consumer interest and engagement,’ said Rosen. “We have ambitious plans for these properties, and Rob will play a critical role in leading these businesses and deepening Yahoo!’s position as the premier digital media company.”

Barrett’s appointment comes on the heels of the largest traffic week in the history of Yahoo! News. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Yahoo! News has experienced its heaviest-trafficked week, including 3 of its top 10 most visited days ever. Since the news broke, Yahoo! News has served more than 865 million pageviews, attracting more than 20.4 million unique users on Monday, May 2 and 17.6 million unique users on Tuesday, May 3 in the U.S. Yahoo! reaches more than 680 million users globally each month.

Barrett most recently served as Chief Strategy Officer of Perfect Market, a Comcast-backed venture, where he was responsible for building relationships with major news brands for the organization. Previously, he was EVP of Tribune Interactive, where he managed the operations and strategic development of online properties in 40 U.S. markets, including latimes.com, chicagotribute.com, baltimoresun.com, and all Tribune news, entertainment and TV sites. He also was previously VP and GM of The FeedRoom Inc., an Internet news venture backed by NBC, where he oversaw the development of video-on-demand for NBC, Tribune Company, CBS and local station groups. He was also co-founder and operating lead at online ventures for Time Inc., ABC News and Primedia’s Channel One Interactive. He holds a BA from Duke University and a Masters from Harvard University.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald