By: Marty Malone
A couple weeks ago, an editor of the popular technology blog Engadget abruptly resigned his position after working at the Aol-owned blog for over 5 years. His reason: The Aol Way, a new 58 page “manifesto” outlining the process for turning Aol and its many news and blog outlets into a 21st century media giant.
So what’s the main point to the 58-page presentation, which was leaked to the public a couple of weeks ago? Money – and how to make as much as possible.
Of the many goals outlined, like raising the stories per month from 33,000 to 55,000 and raising page views per story from 1,500 to 7,000 (all by April of this year, mind you), there are a few which may prove too risky, and may ultimately be the downfall of Aol and it’s many media outlets.
According to The Aol Way, in-house Aol staff writers are expected to write five to 10 stories per day.
No matter how talented a journalist is, there’s no way he or she can pump out 50 stories (or even 25, honestly) per week and have all of them be quality pieces. Writing stories just to sell ads may work in the short term, but once audiences catch on to the fact that Aol is simply becoming a content farm with cleverly headlined stories, they will no doubt look for other news sites and blogs to get their content. SEO optimization over content quality will spell the end for Aol.
Or will it? After the recent purchase of Technology blog TechCrunch and the even more recent $315 million purchase of the online newspaper The Huffington Post, AOL made a smart move by scooping up already popular sites with strong audiences, so as not to start from scratch in terms of audience awareness.
It’s obvious that the state of journalism needs to change. The days of newspapers are numbered, and now’s the time for emerging forms of journalism to make themselves known. Aol is definitely the leader of the pack in terms of reinventing the world of online journalism (which could be credited in part to hiring Leo Burnett in late 2009 to help re-invent the brand’s image.)
It’s going to be exciting to see what becomes of The Aol Way in the months and years (if it survives that long) to come.