Paul Miller, former Senior Associate Editor at Engadget, announced last Thursday that he is leaving the popular gadgets blog, citing “The AOL Way” as the main reason for his departure. Today, Ross Miller, former Associate Editor, announced that he is leaving the blog as well also stating: “The AOL Way isn’t the only reason, but is certainly a catalyst …” What is going on with this “AOL Way”
Engadget is a member of Weblogs, Inc – which was purchased by AOL in 2005. This February 1st, Business Insider leaked “The AOL Way” – A 58 page document by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and David Eun, claiming that AOL is using this document to train editors right now, here are some tidbits:
- AOL tells its editors to decide what topics to cover based on four considerations: traffic potential, revenue potential, edit quality and turn-around time.
- AOL asks its editors to decide whether to produce content based on “the profitability consideration.”
- The documents reveal that AOL is, when the story calls for it, willing to boost traffic by 5 to 10% with search ads and other “paid media.”
- AOL site leaders are expected to have eight ideas for packages that could generate at least $1 million in revenue on hand at all times.
- In-house AOL staffers are expected to write five to 10 stories per day.
- AOL knows its sites are too dependent on traffic from AOL.com, and it wants its editors to fix the problem by posting more frequently, with more emphasis on getting page views
The new rules do not appear to be sitting too well with many editors, they emphasize quantity, traffic and profit rather than content. So, true to their personal integrity, both Millers decided to leave, making Engadget lose 2 editors this week, now the question is: Will others follow?
Today, Joshua Topolsky, Engadget’s Editor-in-chief , wrote on twitter: “Just to be clear: Engadget is not subject to the AOL Way at all. I can’t be any more direct” and posted next ” However, philosophically, I agree with Paul and Ross it is bad for our particular brand of business” and noted in later posts that Paul didn’t agree with the AOL way; however, nobody is forcing him into using it.
Paul Miller was on today’s Engadget podcast, where little was mentioned about his departure (he remained mostly silent), only stating that he is leaving for some other reasons besides “The AOL Way.”
Needless to say, all these ordeal is bringing more attention to Engadget and whether “The AOL Way” will reflect in Engadget’s later posts or not, it is certainly is benefitting AOL by attracting more attention to the website; after all, there is no such thing as bad publicity.