The Now/ledge

A Guide to the 'Now' Revolution in News / by Alan Soon

AOL loses its top editors amid shift to amateur journalism


Is AOL’s push toward amateur journalism sending its veteran journalists out the door?

The media company, which once boasted of its more than 500 journos (among them nine Pulitzer prize winners), is now seeing its key assets walk out the door. Reuters reports that the company has now lost its Editor-in-Chief Mike Nizza to News Corp. Other departures include World Editor James Graff and Enterprise Editor James Burnett.

Some ex-AOL execs blame CEO Tim Armstrong — who is said to be taking the company from one chaotic project to another without a focus or strategy. For the editorial teams, emphasis has clearly shifted from “professional” to “amateur” journalism, as seen in AOL’s push toward quick-and-cheap content in projects like the hyperlocal network Patch and freelance content by Seed.

Preisdent of AOL Media and Studios David Eun told PaidContent that isn’t the case and that the company was building a balance between professional and amateur.

“If you go to our Travel site, I think you’ll see a very well-programmed experience, that includes articles our staff journalists have written, content from partners and local content from people in our Seed network. We also have videos from our StudioNow network. What we’re doing is creating the largest virtual newsroom of the future. Ultimately that’s run by the people on staff here, who produce our editorial.”

Eun in another interview (this time with Reuters) defended the company’s strategy, saying it’s still about content.

“We don’t believe the content on the Web will only be created within our walls, let’s be clear about that… A lot of great content is created originally within our walls… It’s our job to bring the best out there and mix it internally so our audiences get the benefit of both.”

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