December 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM
1. Jobs Open Up on Internet
Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, made the startling statement in May that his company employed 4,000 journalists, 3,500 of whom were part-time or freelance.
“That’s pretty decent growth in a matter of six months,” Leena Rao wrote then on TechCrunch.com. “Of course, AOL has launched a number of content initiatives, including buying hyperlocal news site Patch and launching content machine Seed.com. Armstrong says that AOL is really ‘taking local to a local level.’ Patch is now in 53 markets in 5 states, including Connecticut and California. And it’s been reported that AOL will pour $50 million into Patch this year and plans to roll out the model to ‘hundreds’ of communities in the future.”
By December, Patch launched its 500th site. Hyperlocal coverage on the Web was a leading trending topic for the news business this year. In Washington, TBD launched a hyperlocal site with Robert Allbritton’s deep pockets, boasting a network of more than 130 local blogs and websites.
On Long Island, N.Y., Newsday, which changed owners and undertook a series of layoffs, said in August it would grow its hyperlocal coverage and hire 34 journalists. USA Today said the same month that it would cut 9 percent of its staff but shift its emphasis to mobile. Bloomberg started hiring for a niche operation, Bloomberg Government, described by the New York Times as “an information behemoth — a news aggregator, government contract database, Congressional staff directory and source for policy research and analysis all in one Web site.”
The Daily Beast, led by editor Tina Brown, got a sudden boost when its owner engineered the purchase of the financially ailing Newsweek magazine. Among the combined effort’s first hires was Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan.
How diverse these operations are was an open question. Bloomberg, AOL and the Daily Beast refuse to disclose that information, with the latter two declining to participate in the American Society of News Editors survey of online outlets. AOL Patch even issued a statement saying “We do not focus on race or ethnicity in the hiring process,” before backtracking.
In any case, there were not yet enough journalism jobs online to match the numbers being pushed out of “legacy” news operations &mash; and more often than not, freelance compensation couldn’t approximate a full-time salary.
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