Interesting summary of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s comments at a recent industry event, at which the chief executive flagged the importance of human editing and journalists in using technology to give the content they produce scale.
Armstrong is betting that content will be the next huge development area online:
“The content space will be the epicenter of the internet.”
Part of the reason for that is how slow journalism has been to adapt to changing technologies. Even at the most basic level. For instance, journalists are often not included in corporate technology upgrades. Says Armstrong:
“Journalists I met were often the only people in the room who never had access to a lot of info, except what they already knew.”
That is a problem he wants to fix at AOL, by creating platforms and strategies for writers and editors that utilise the best the web has to offer.
The job would be hard enough if Kersey only had to face the regular challenges of any starting journalist – building sources and writing with authority, for starters. But he’s also got to hire freelancers, edit copy, take pictures, record video, Tweet out news flashes and build a profile for what remains an almost unknown brand.
There’s always too much to do. And it will only pay off if the one area of the operation Kersey can’t control, advertising, can make inroads like no other operator has been able to in the much-hyped hyperlocal news space.
“Patch.com asks for $15 for every 1,000 viewers it brings to one form of online ad that businesses create themselves.” Can this revenue model work and should editors like Kersey have more of a role in the commercial side of the hyperlocal site?
Patch.org will partner with community foundations and other organisations to launch Patch sites and bring objective local news and information to communities and neighborhoods around the world that lack adequate news media and online local information resources.
The Patch.org sites will employ a local journalist to produce original news and content, and aggregate material and information created by the community. Any revenue earned by the sites will be invested back into the community they serve, a press release says.
Leor Galil reviews AOL’s recent experiment in covering the music portion of massive US festival and conference SXSW: AOL offered 2,000 $50-assignments to create coverage of the event for its music site Spinner. The freelancers were recruited via freelance content site Seed.com with the aim of covering all 2,000 bands appearing at the festival.
There’s a certain crassness to AOL’s experiment. The very concept places more weight on quantity vs quality, and the setup undermines the very ideals and democratic nature of web publishing and blogging. With blogging, most bloggers pour their blood, sweat, tears, time and love into a little blog that may not get a lot of hits: many see zero monetary gain. It’s a labour of love, and the best content (or most creative, etc) tends to rise to the top and get noticed. And, one hopes, those who are able to create some fantastic content on a consistent basis can begin to establish themselves online and perhaps make some money for their hard work.
An internal memo seen by Business Insider detailing the plans underlines AOL’s intention to aggressively expand in the local space, something the company describes as “one of the most promising ‘white spaces’ on the internet”.
The ‘open content network’ Associated Content is looking to own more localised event content with advertising, its CEO told BIA/Kelsey in an interview for its blog.
Associated Content, which has over 350,000 contributors (and 60 employees), gathers and syndicates content around the web. CEO Patrick Keane told BIA/Kelsey that the company can also develop content on a “custom” basis for commercial clients, which it has done for Reuters, Hachette, Procter & Gamble and Toyota.
Publishers – who Keane calls “the owners of audience” – can increasingly see the value of unique content creation assets, he says. AOL, for instance, owns less than 10 percent of its content. Yahoo’s percentage of ownership may not be much higher.
For such sites, local content is a key differentiator, especially since so much of it has a utility angle. We see more and more contributors contributing content on a localised basis, says Keane. Consequently, one of Associated Content’s big initiatives is to find, discern and empower contributors on the basis of local DNA.