Proceeding with its transition from freelance to full-time–and continuing to mothball brands that were at the centre of AOL’s content strategy only a couple of years ago–AOL has canned the last freelancers at its business and finance sites.
The word came in the middle of the night last night, in an email from the accounting department (see below).
On the positive side, AOL’s accountant did not also add insult to injury by inviting the freelancers to continue to contribute for free, the way others at AOL have in recent days while delivering similar news.
An AOL freelancer alerted us to the fact that freelancers were getting canned a few days ago. Huffpo’s business editor, Peter Goodman, quickly weighed in to say that the company was also going to be hiring some of these freelancers full time.
AOL’s Daily Finance and Walletpop sites are now apparently staffed by a skeleton crew of 1-2 full time folks. If we had to guess, we’d assume that in another few months, AOL will conclude that maintaining separate brands with such anemic staffing makes no sense, and it will either fold the staffers into Huffington Post or fire them, too, and shut the sites down.
Daily Finance and Walletpop both generated a significant number of unique users for AOL prior to the Huffington Post deal. Some of these uniques will likely be replaced by direct links from AOL’s homepage to Huffington Post content. But some of them will now likely disappear.
Here’s the note:
From: Anderson, Kristi
Date: Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 10:41 AM
Subject: Update on Your AOL Daily Finance/Blogging Stocks Contracts
To: “Anderson, Kristi”
Hi there –
Thank you very much for your contributions to AOL. As we have discussed on calls and in emails, going forward our editorial direction is to build a great team of full-time editors, writers, and reporters. To that end, we are reducing the scope of AOL’s freelancer program.
Per the terms of your agreement with AOL, this note confirms the end of your engagement for content services effective Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Rest assured, you will be paid for your content and services through this date, disbursed to you per AOL’s regular payment schedule in late May.
We greatly appreciate your contributions and are available to answer any questions you may have. Please email [email protected] with any inquiries.
Content Compliance Program Director
Accounting Services | AOL, Inc.
UPDATE: AOL spokesperson Mario Ruiz just sent us this note:
Regarding your story about AOL freelancers, this is about building a great team of full-time editors, writers, and reporters. We will not be spending less on our editorial content, but reallocating how it’s spent. We’ve been hiring dozens of talented reporters and editors, and we’re continuing to build our team. In fact, we’re looking to bring on an additional 70-80 full time edit staffers.