Working for Ariana Huffington’s AOL “Patch” sounds hellish. A current editor complains anonymously that:
HQ Directives change fast and furiously. Three weeks from hire to launch. A month later came the “Double Down” initiative aimed at doubling user engagement through mandatory content. Next, mandatory daily video (and drop DD). Then Blogs and Curation (curation was quickly killed). Daily video no longer required. Now its Lucky 7s (seven posts a day; when hired, it was four posts a day). And rumor has it something new and patchy is in the pipeline, and will likely need to be implemented in less than 10 days.
Weekly Site Updates. Almost every week, a new version is deployed, resulting in annoying glitches, crashes and work loss. Plus they move things around in the layout so often, its hard to find things or talk a user through something.
The Patch model isn’t sustainable. One full-time employee per site, means one person wears all hats. Content is supplemented by freelancers, however, there is still just one person responsible for running the site, 24/7. No one edits or proofreads. Editors who are good news journalists must also cover Woman’s Club events. While editors who specialize in fluff have to try to wrap their head around ordinances and lawsuits.
Editors are responsible for providing copy seven days a week. In order to take a day off, like Sunday, content must be set up in advance. In order to take a vacation, editors need to find and train their own sub, and pay for them out of the limited freelance budget. Editors are encouraged to prepare content in advance and bring their laptop on vacation instead of hiring a sub.
Well, unlike some of Ariana’s writers, at least these folks get a paycheck.