Mike Porath, the editor in chief of AOL News, is headed to pop-culture blog network BuzzMedia as a senior vice president, say sources.This is another loss for AOL (AOL), as AOL News has been on fire lately.
Mike’s not jumping ship to get away from AOL, says a source. BuzzMedia made a nice offer, and the opportunity will give him a chance to make more of an impact than he can within the belly of AOL.
But AOL’s content strategy has not been clearly articulated by senior management, insiders say. The lack of focus and uncertainty about the company’s future direction are causing concern and confusion among the troops. Several senior content executives have left AOL recently, and we believe the lack of certainty about the company’s future content plans contributed to Mike’s decision to leave.
Here’s Mike’s exit memo:
Most of you were at the meeting yesterday afternoon, but for those who were not, Marty announced that I am leaving AOL in mid-April.
I’m taking a position next month as Senior Vice President of Programming at BuzzMedia, a young company with a growing collection of leading pop culture sites. It’s quite a change for a few reasons. I’m going from a big company to a small one, stepping outside my comfort zone in news to explore pop culture, taking over a larger management role, and moving my family from New York to Los Angeles.
I really wasn’t looking to leave AOL, but in the end, when I was approached with this opportunity, it was too great a challenge to pass up. That said, leaving AOL is not easy for me. Of all the things I’ve had the great fortune to do in journalism, nothing has made me prouder than the team we have built together in the last 6-8 months. You are great journalists and even better people. It wasn’t that long ago that we were running mainly AP stories. Take a moment and recognise how far we’ve come:
– In December, we had five reporters in Haiti covering the disastrous earthquake and pulled together more than 50 of our own stories on the aftermath in just a few days. That coverage was cited by the The New York Times, read on the air by Rush Limbaugh, and picked up by many other publications. And the icing on the cake: our photojournalist’s work is being displayed in a United Nations exhibit.
– We’ve broken stories on everything from military drones (thank you, Sharon Weinberger) to mid-air flight emergencies (thank you, Ray Holloman of Fanhouse).
– Here’s a short list of folks that have written exclusively for AOL News in the last few months: Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Steny Hoyer, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, John Kerry, Ralph Nader, John Galbraith, and Buzz Aldrin. Our opinion editor John Merline has plans for hundreds more luminaries and star bloggers to contribute in the months ahead. – We’ve relaunched the site three times (not by choice), changed publishing sytems twice, and added (and trained!) more than 100 stellar contributors.
– Just last week we published a major investigative series by our Pulitzer Prize-winner reporter Andrew Schneider on one of the biggest (and least known) public health threats facing us today: nanotechnology. – And finally, our external referrals — the truest metric to gauge our success — are up 50% from February to March. Folks, you’re doing amazing things. It’s what makes me extremely confident AOL News is positioned for huge growth in 2010. Mike Nizza, who helped make NYTimes.com the innovative site it is today and launched incredibly successful sites at the Atlantic, will be taking over as acting editor-in-chief. He’s been the brains behind much of this operation so the transition should go seemlessly. Thanks again for all that you doing for AOL News. I’ll certainly miss working with you. I’ll be around until April 16 and we’ll schedule a night for drinks before then. Cheers, Mike
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