MEDIA: AOL boosts editorial team

Internet service provider AOL has expanded its UK editorial team in a bid to push its credentials as a mass-market, family-oriented news and information medium.

Sheila Sang, the former editorial director of women's interest portal Handbag.com and BBC Online executive director, has been appointed head of editorial and programming.

The job is effectively an expanded version of the role previously filled by Andy Bull, who resigned as head of content in October 2001.

AOL UK now has 23 channels, the latest of which is aimed specifically at men, and claims two million registered users.

In other moves, Josa Young, former iVillage senior editor, has been put in charge of the home and family channels, which include health, parenting, and women. AOL health editor Paul Sansome left the company earlier this year.

Cliff Jones, formerly Freeserve head of news and current affairs, has been appointed deputy editor of news and sport. He reports to Chris Condron, who runs the 14-strong editorial team.

A spokesman said: 'Treat us as another medium. If you are the comms director of a consumer-facing company, or if you are a PRO speaking to the Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and GMTV, then talk to us - we are the same family-oriented, mass market service. It's as simple as that.'

Consumer technology is a key area for AOL, according to group editorial director Anne Alexander: 'This is not for techno-geeks, we are looking at mass market consumers. We are looking at new gadgets - what are the new products, such as software, downloads and hardware that people are excited about?' she said.

The channel will feature comparisons or buyers' guides on gadgets such as DVD players and digital cameras, overseen by technology editor Paul Fisher.

While many of AOL UK's 100-strong editorial team are tasked with aggregating existing content and presenting it for the ISP's audience, AOL is also generating unique content.

Alexander said: 'We like to think of the channels almost as individual magazines.'

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