In the reorganization of AOL and the Huffington Post into the Huffington Post Media Group, the company succumbed to layoffs and consolidated AOL news sites into the Huffington Post, folding or shutting down thirty properties. While a number of staffers were let go in this round of layoffs, what about the freelancers? It has been speculated that their time at AOL may be over, though it has remained largely unclear as to how freelancers for the properties in question will officially be treated going forward under the new media group.
Today, Peter Goodman, editor for business and technology news for the Huffington Post, held a conference call for freelance business writers for AOL properties, and we were fortunate enough to get the inside scoop on what was discussed from a freelancer (who shall remain anonymous) on the call.
One of the major points Goodman tried to make, says our source, is that AOL HuffPost wants freelancers who are professional journalists (not bloggers) to become staffers. Goodman encouraged all of the call attendees to apply for full-time jobs with the Huffington Post Media Group and reiterated that the new group is “ultimately about greater journalism.” Of course, we know that AOL HuffPost has been on a journalistic hiring spree of late.
One interesting quote from Goodman, “We can’t replace professional journalism with an ad hoc blogging arrangement….we don’t want to confuse professional journalists with bloggers.” Non-professional journalists (perhaps bloggers churning out content for the AOL Way?) from what we heard, are being encouraged to freelance.
AOL also wants to staff up its main offices in New York, LA and Dulles, and create large newsrooms of these professional journalists. If you don’t want to move to these locales, AOL is bullish on these freelancers joining hyperlocal news platform Patch.
The HuffPost business desk will move into the AOL 770 Broadway offices on Monday, and staffers have already been notified that they should be packing up their belongings for the move to the new office. Goodman says AOL HuffPost wants to create a large newsroom where all staffers are sitting in one area.
Goodman also made sure to caution freelancers that the integration is not happening immediately and that the media group is still evaluating each property to determine the best way to proceed in terms of hiring. He said that over the next three weeks, editors of every site will be meeting with the HuffPost to determine what the ratio of staffers and freelancers should be for each property.
While this all seems great for some freelancers, the picture Goodman painted isn’t so rosy. Many freelancers who had already applied for HuffPost jobs weeks ago have not received a response fron editors, says our source.