Saturday, April 30, 2011
The AOL-owned Patch hyperlocal suburban newspaper chain announced last week that it is looking to enlist local bloggers to supply content -- for free.
This comes just as AOL finds itself in the middle of a raging controversy over unremunerated bloggers who supplied free content for years to its recently acquired Huffington Post website.
AOL bought the Huffington property for $315 million in early March, sparking indignation by an estimated 6 to 9 thousand independent bloggers who had contributed free content to the site, which pulls in some 27 million U.S. visitors a month.
The disaffected bloggers have set up an official site, filed a lawsuit against Ariana Huffington and AOL for back wages, and affiliated with Local 1981 of the National Writers Union.
They also have begun to strike against the Huffington Post site and are urging a reader boycott.
At the very same time, the Patch hyperlocal AOL property put out the appeal for unremunerated bloggers to join them.
In an announcement published in its Patch on-line local newspapers, the AOL property actually invoked the Huffington Post model:
"...bloggers will retain the rights to the content they post and will be allowed to republish it elsewhere, something our staff writers are not allowed to do. Bloggers are unpaid, but similar to the Huffington Post model, they are given a platform and audience for their views."
I don't know who's doing AOL's PR, but that kind of sounds like George Pullman putting out a call for new workers -- on the same terms -- in the middle of the bloody 1894 strike.
AOL operates Patch hyperlocals in 18 states and the District of Columbia. In the Chicago area it has properties in Skokie, Evanston, Highland Park, Northbrook, Glenview, Niles, Morton Grove, Wilmette-Kenilworth, Winnetka-Glencoe and Des Plaines.