Ken Auletta outlines Tim Amston’s row to hoe at AOL. And he describes a journalistic consolidation strategy. With the whole industry in sharp decline at the forces unleashed by Craigslist Google Yahoo and MSN, Armstrong finds a mission to rescue ‘the deeply considered piece’, and to place it in a local context.
…C.E.O. Tim Armstrong. In the past three years, newspaper advertising revenues have plummeted, a fourth of all newsroom employees have been laid off or have accepted buyouts, and more than a hundred free local papers have folded. During these unhappy times for the profession, a surprising savior has appeared: America Online. In the last year, AOL has hired many talented journalists. The surge of activity is even more noteworthy given AOL’s dismal decade. The company still gets eighty per cent of its revenue from subscribers. But AOL also runs popular service sites, like e-mail, Instant Messaging, MapQuest, and Moviefone. And, according to the company’s newest C.E.O., Tim Armstrong, the most important part of AOL is the collection of blogs and news sites that it manages: DailyFinance, Politics Daily, Engadget, TechCrunch, FanHouse, and about ninety others. Armstrong, who is forty years old, thinks that AOL can develop a reputation as a place where reporters and editors craft original stories.