Tag Archives: AOL

Huffington Post: Exploitation claim is ‘wrong and offensive’

The Huffington Post has defended its policy of not paying for contributors’ blog posts, after the Newspaper Guild in the US accused the site of exploiting freelance journalists.

The guild launched a campaign following the site’s sale to AOL for $315m earlier this month, calling on Huffington to share a portion of the sale proceeds with contributors, because she had built a successful media empire based on unpaid work.

In an email seen by Poynter, the Huffington Post’s head of media relations Mario Ruiz responds: “It’s both wrong and offensive to insist that HuffPost is exploiting journalists.”

Ruiz wrote: “HuffPost has 143 editors, writers, and reporters on our edit team. But we feel there’s a critical distinction between our editors and reporters and the people who contribute to our group blog.

“While we pay our editors and reporters, we don’t pay for the opinion pieces submitted by our thousands of bloggers. The vast majority of our bloggers understand the value of having a platform that reaches a very large audience.

“They can write as often as like they like or as little as they like.”

AP: Huffington Post sale boosts newspaper stocks

Shares in some of the big publicly quoted American newspaper groups rose yesterday on the back of news of AOL’s £195m acquisition of the Huffington Post.

Gannett rose 2.8 per cent yesterday and the New York Times Company 2.7 per cent.

According to the Associated Press, the flurry of trading activity shows that investors are still interested in news companies. “The [Huffington Post] deal raised the value on leading branded digital properties,” one analyst told the newswire.

AOL names new leader of news division

AOL announced this week that Jonathan Dube will take up the position of senior vice president and general manager of News and Information.

According to a release from AOL, Dube, who was most recently vice president of ABCNews.com, will lead AOL’s news content division, which includes AOL News, Tech, Finance and Sports.

Dube has also served twice as president of the Online News Association, the release adds.

TechCrunch editor on AOL, its new ‘sugar daddy’ parent

At the AOP Digital Publishing Summit on Friday Journalism.co.uk caught up with editor of TechCrunch Europe Mike Butcher, to speak about the recent purchase of TechCrunch by AOL. Listen below to hear Butcher discuss TechCrunch’s dedication to independent editorial and the deal-breaker behind the purchase.


AOL buys TechCrunch

AOL has bought leading technology news site TechCrunch. The deal was signed on stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference ahead of an interview with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

According to a blog post by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington about the sale, the site will be free to criticise AOL in its coverage.

Arrington explains his reasons behind the sale:

The truth is I was tired. But I wasn’t tired of writing, or speaking at events. I was tired of our endless tech problems, our inability to find enough talented engineers who wanted to work, ultimately, on blog and CrunchBase software. And when we did find those engineers, as we so often did, how to keep them happy. Unlike most startups in Silicon Valley, the center of attention at TechCrunch is squarely on the writers. It’s certainly not an engineering driven company.

AOL of course fixes that problem perfectly. They run the largest blogging network in the world and if we sold to them we’d never have to worry about tech issues again. We could focus our engineering resources on higher end things and I, for one, could spend more of my day writing and a lot less time dealing with other stuff.

According to an FT report, Arrington gave no comment on the value of the deal, but has been given “various incentives” to remain at TechCrunch for at least three years following the sale.

(Hat tip to GigaOm, who saw it coming way before us…)

OJR: How nationally-owned local publishers can get ahead

The challenges facing locally and nationally owned publications are the subject of a post on the Online Journalism Review website by Robert Niles, who follows up on a previous post in which he questions the future of AOL’s hyperlocal start-up Patch.com and other national chains.

Niles ha previously claimed that locally-owned publications today have cost advantages which outweigh the “economies of scale” of national chains of local publishers. But pushed by a reader to come up with advantages for national chains which could make them more profitable, he puts forward two ideas as a starting point for further debate, shown in summary below.

National training

A smart, focused national training program could help reduce the time it takes a local editor to produce an engaging website. Local website publishers who don’t have access to such training will take longer to get up to speed.

Search engine optimization

A national chain can give its local publishers an advantage by arranging for aggressive cross-linking among its sites. That creates a potentially huge number of inbound links, helping push the chain’s sites ahead of its local competitors. In addition, by building a national brand for local news, the chain might be able to elicit more in-bound links to its sites from outside the network.

See his full post here…

paidContent: AOL hyperlocal network Patch plans 400 new sites

paidContent reports today that AOL’s hyperlocal venture Patch could become the biggest new employer of full-time journalists in the US, with plans to add hundreds more sites by the end of the year.

According to the media site, Patch’s president Warren Webster told them the company plans to add 400 new hyperlocal sites to its network of 100 so far, doubling its current advertised state coverage.

Webster says that Patch is selecting towns to expand to based in part on a 59-variable algorithm that takes into account factors like the average household income of a town, how often citizens vote, and how the local public high school ranks; the company is then talking to local residents to ensure that targeted areas have other less quantifiable characteristics like a “vibrant business community” and “walkable Main Street”. Patch hires one professional reporter to cover each community; each “cluster” of sites also has an ad manager who is the “feet in the street” selling ads.

See the full post here…

Science bloggers leave network in protest at Pepsi sponsorship

Fascinating round-up from David Dobbs about the exodus of science bloggers from the ScienceBlogs network, part of the Seed Media Group magazine title, over the launch of a new blog sponsored by PepsiCo.

The origins of the PepsiCo blog – money rather than merit – would not have matched those of other bloggers on the network: it’s an issue of credibility and trust between the readers and writers, says Dobbs.

Does this advertising-editorial wall ensure good journalism? Unfortunately, no; people find other ways to botch journalism. But in the murky world of media, we need a few firm lines to keep us away from slippery slopes. This pact between publisher, writer, and reader provides one of the most vital. It forms the foundation of reader trust; violating it erodes that foundation. Ads are a necessary evil. Credible publications present them unambiguously as third-party commercial messages so the reader instantly knows someone is selling something. That’s why patching a couple of stickers on a blog that presents itself in every other way as editorial content, as Seed proposed before killing the Pepsi blog, doesn’t work. It’s like sticking a lapel button on a guy at the front of the church in a tuxedo and expecting us to think he’s not part of the wedding. The guy needs different clothes.

Full post on Comment is Free…

Correction: this post has been amended to show that it is Seed Media Group not AOL’s Seed that run ScienceBlogs.

Embarrassment as AOL breathlessly swallows spoof Raoul Moat report whole

Not a good morning on the AOL News Surge Desk, AOL’s breaking news channel, after a story on the police search for alleged gunman Raoul Moat cited a satirical news site as a source.

Quoting spoof news site The News Grind, which suggests local residents are enjoying the live drama of the manhunt, the Surge Desk ran with the headline:

Raoul Moat Manhunt: Britain Breathlessly Awaits Bloody Shoot-Out Between Raoul Moat, Police

The AOL piece included large chunks of The News Grind article:

As officers and dogs move in, citizens from around the isle are anticipating a swift and gruesome conclusion to the national drama. Some are even clamoring for it, calling it the best live entertainment they’ve seen in some time.

News Grind paints a vivid picture of the mood:

“I can scarcely wait for the climax,” confirmed Elsie White, 77, as she raced back to her house after picking up some toffees and copies of today’s paper from a local newsagent featuring the blood-soaked face of a police officer allegedly shot by Moat.

“We haven’t had a live event like this to enjoy for quite some time and there’s only old Doctors episodes on at this time of day.”

Families have been collecting children from schools and nurseries throughout the day so they could watch together, as expectations reached fever pitch that a violent firearms confrontation was imminent. Over 800 schools have closed across the country as a result.

The Angry Mob has a screenshot of how the original article appeared on AOL.

AOL News Surge Desk Contributor Carl Franzen has issued an apology this morning and amended the story. Hats off to him for explaining what’s happened, where the mistake was made and not just taking it down:

An earlier version of this story included information from a false report from another site. We’ve updated to correct the record and explain what happened.

While residents of Rothbury have been described as scared and worried as the police continue their search for the accused killer, the situation is far different than what we reported in an earlier version of this post, which relied on false information from what turned out to be a satirical news site.

(…) We bought the quote as authentic – hook, line and sinker. We deeply regret the error.

Unfortunately the page title and URL still allude to the title of the original article:

Robin Brown, who wrote the satirical piece for The News Grind, sums it up:

A mistake anyone could have made? Perhaps, in these days of rolling news and slapping on content and the rush to be first with a report – the news grind, if you will.

But even that old chestnut about Americans and irony doesn’t wash – the US is the home of The Onion, the finest satire site in the world, after all.

Maybe it’s just a sign that, in these information-saturated days, even the news is beyond satire?