Earlier this week we reported that AOL was planning to lay off hundreds of engineering and edit staff in Bangalore, but it turns out that the layoffs are affecting editorial employees stateside, too. Two hundred of them, according to CEO Tim Armstrong’s memo Among them? Jonathan Dube, who joined from ABCNews.com just five months ago to serve as SVP of news, says Kara Swisher.
Posts Tagged ‘Kara Swisher’
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In a surprise move over the weekend, AOL announced that it had agreed to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million.
Arianna Huffington will serve as editor-in-chief of all content within AOL, including blogs like Engadget and TechCrunch, Patch, and the Huffington Post itself (which as far as we know is not going anywhere).
Kara Swisher has been all over coverage of the deal. In her report, she notes that Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau will not be staying with the company, nor will Chief Revenue Officer Greg Coleman. The other 200 Huffington Post employees will make the transition to AOL, though the mothership may be cutting staff in the months ahead.
The New York Times adds that AOL’s own news sites like Politics Daily are “likely to disappear when the deal is completed, and many of the writers who work for those sites will become Huffington Post writers.”
Hearst wouldn’t reveal any actual numbers to Kara Swisher, but a spokesman did say that they “are on track with our business plan and have an aggressive timetable for profitability which we expect we will reach in the next couple of months.”
This is actually a big deal, because in June, the site wouldn’t say when it thought it would start making money.
Murdoch’s company purchased Beliefnet in late 2007 for an undisclosed sum.
The company may also be planning to unload Jamba/Jamster, which it bought 51 percent of in 2006 for $187.5 million, and finalized the purchase in 2008.
The Fox Digital Media group, which is the segment of News Corp that owns Beliefnet, lost money last quarter. News Corp’s most recent earnings report doesn’t state the exact amount of the losses but notes that they worsened since last year, “principally due to lower search and advertising revenue.”
flickr: Andrew Mason
In it, Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt makes some good points: “We aren’t here to break news, lay out editorial opinion, or investigate the latest controversy,” he says. “While we love to read The Economist, The Washington Post and Wiredâ€“we have little in common with their missions or business models.”
In an interview with Swisher, Rosenblatt added: “What is wrong with coming up with a way for thousands of writers—who have been laid off, by the way, from news organizations—knowing exactly how much they make, selecting their own topics and publishing when they want?”
Demand Media content is simply the basic how-to, guide-of service journalism that really has nothing to do with the investigative work that media giants are finding it harder to fund.
…Demand is, of course, an easy target for a snarky takedown, but is entirely besides the point if you want to really talk about where serious journalism is headed.
She’s right, he’s right. But there are two problems, we find:
1) Serious journalism is in trouble and we want to save it, but so’s service journalism—and DS isn’t doing those writers any favors. We maintain that the rates paid by Demand Studios are not satisfactory for people who write about fashion, parenting, finance, careers, or makeup. And no, reading a parenting article in a glossy magazine isn’t going to change or save the world, but we still believe that those pieces should be reported well and written fairly and accurately. DS’s rates aren’t helping those writers—whom we (perhaps inaccurately) still believe to be journalists, if they follow journalistic principles.
2) Demand Studios is not a springboard back into the industry; maybe it will be in the future but it isn’t now. If you’re a laid-off journalist trying to freelance, you may get regular work through DS and its ilk but it most likely won’t lead to another job. It may be better to take an even lower-paid assignment at a more prestigious publication if your ultimate goal is to get back in the journalism world. Especially if you ultimately want to break news, because even Rosenblatt admits that’s not what his company is about.
In a strategy almost the polar opposite of Aol’s “robot content mill” tactic, MSN—the other of the web “portals” reinventing itself for the new decade—will launch an online lifestyle site aimed at fashion, decor, relationships and beauty. And it’ll use original, high-quality content, reports Kara Swisher.
The new site, unnamed as of yet, will launch in the first half of 2010.
BermanBraun Interactive and the Microsoft-owned portal will run the new site, and as part of the deal, Hachette Filipacchi will contribute content.
“What’s perhaps most interesting here is the hard push for a unique editorial product, in contrast to the more aggregated approach of Yahoo and the new thrust by AOL…aimed at creating content guided by search queries and consumer intent,” Swisher writes.
BermanBraun and MSN launched celebrity-news site Wonderwall earlier this year and the site already holds “the top rank in engagement—measured by page views and minutes per visit—among celeb sites.” Wonderwall consists of content aggregated by humans, who are paid to cull the web for news as well as give Wonderwall “voice.” Presumably the new lifestyle site will also need a good editor or two.
The sports news and blog startup combines over 200 local sports blogs under one banner. The site has between four and seven million unique visitors a month, according to Swisher.
The company currently employs 14 folks, if their web site is to be believed, and shares ad revenue with its bloggers, so the $7 million could spur some growth that would make a lot of people very happy.
Tim Armstrong, Google Senior Vice President, has been named chairman and CEO of AOL effective yesterday, we’ve learned. Current chairman/CEO Randy Falco and president/COO Ron Grant will leave the company after a transition period. Not much of a “transition”—Armstrong starts in less than a month—April 7. Looks like all that speculation was correct.
AOL Exec: ‘Why Randy Falco Gets To Keep His Job Is A Mystery To A Lot Of People’ | 300 Laid Off Yesterday
The layoffs at AOL we warned about did indeed happen yesterday, according to Kara Swisher of Boomtown. 300 employees at the Time Warner online (TWX) division were said to have been pink-slipped at a “mandatory HR meeting” yesterday.
A commenter on the Post I.T. blog who says her husband worked for AOL wrote, “he was given 2 months severance and 2 months free COBRA. He worked for AOL for 15 years.”
Another commenter confirms that Bebo employees were also laid off: “AOL shut down the entire Austin Tx Bebo office today. … We were also given 2 months severance and 1 hour to vacate the premises. Nice.”
If this isn’t sad, we don’t know what is.
If you have any more information about the layoffs, leave us a comment or send us a tip and we’ll check it out.