Brad Dobbs's Blog


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Best of Luck Paul Miller

One of my favorite websites these days is Engadget.  Owned by AOL – it is one of the quintessential places to get the latest news on the bleeding edge of gadgets, as my bank account can attest, I try to live from time to time.

One of the contributing editors, Paul Miller resigned late last week citing the “AOL Way” as his signoff from on the site as an editor, journalist and blogger. You can check out his letter here.

In TechCrunch yesterday morning, I came across an interesting post by Paul Carr, who suggested he should have gone with more of a scorched earth exit leading to a dismissal instead of a resignation.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of Paul’s points, I think if anything he was trying to make a little light of the situation while highlighting the “AOL Way”.  You can check that out here, I suggest you read it.

I will take from this article though some of the guidelines that AOL demands that their journalists adhere to.  Pretty scary stuff here (as taken from the TechCrunch article)

  • “each article should be profitable and generate at least [emphasis theirs] 7k PVs/story”
  • “[By March:] SEO checker to be used on 95% of stories”
  • “Decide What Topics To Cover [based on] 1) Traffic Potential, 2) Revenue/Profit 3) Turnaround Time 4) Editorial Integrity”
  • “use [freelancers] sparingly unless paid for by advertiser”
  • “”Carefully craft headlines to grab users’ interest by incorporating in-demand terms and entice them to click onto the article [e.g.] ‘Lady Gaga Goes Pantsless in Paris’”
  • “use editorial judgment & insight to determine production. Ex: “Macaulay Culkin” & Mila Kunis” are trending because they broke up -> write story about Macaulay Culkin and Mila Kunis”.


Now I don’t have any insight into how much Engadget/TechCrunch or any other AOL blog must adhere to this policy, but the fact it seems that this was indeed sent out to staffers means that it is something that must come into consideration in some way, shape or form.  Paul Carr insinuates that TechCrunch isn’t necessarily subject to these rules.

However, when will the top brass of companies like this realize that these sites were built on the EXACT OPPOSITE of what they are outlining for content, and that users can sniff out a “sponsored post” as Gizmodo labels out pretty quick?  I can’t imagine as more of this word gets out that AOL again will end up turning these promising sites of the new wave of journalism into the former shells that they were, and staffers like Paul Miller will start their own sites, again – and bring the readers with them.

The best part is, I am sure AOL will try to buy them too.  @futurepaul – if you decide to start your own gig, I got my journalism degree in 2004.  It’s been awhile, but I would love to join you on some sort of part-time basis.


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