In the news
AOL announced plans to hire hundreds of new reporters, editors, and multimedia creators over the next 12 months as it looks to become the world's largest producer of original quality content.
Why does it matter?
The fact that AOL intends to be the biggest global net hirer of journalists is good news for a media industry decimated in recent years by layoffs and cutbacks.
It's also a bold commitment by AOL to original content, says David Eun, president of AOL's Media and Studios division.
"Our data suggests people want things that are unique and original and it doesn't just have to be breaking news stories, it can actually be commentary and opinion," he adds. "But doing that well is a craft and we appreciate dedicated, professional journalists. Using these people will help us resonate with users more effectively."
Eun doesn't go as far as to say the move is a sign that the pendulum may be swinging away from amateur blogs and other user-generated content toward more professionally produced video and news stories. However, he notes, "We have a particular approach that is based on the belief that quality will win."
Julia Roether, VP at TriplePoint PR, says due to its sheer audience size, "AOL has always been a good target for pitches, but the hiring of hundreds of journalists makes it very attractive."
Like many PR pros, Roether must track the volume of amateur online content, but also deal with the people behind them, many of whom don't honor embargoes or haven't been trained to go to multiple sources before running a story. As such, Roether says PR pros will likely welcome the addition of more professional journalists online.Key facts
1. AOL's websites still reach more than 100 million unique visitors in the US each month
2. Eun is also reorganizing AOL's sites into 17 super networks, such as finance, news, sports, movies, music, and family, to better draw consumers and advertisers
3. Last year, AOL purchased Patch.com, which focuses on hyper-local news and other content