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AOL Relaunches News Site In Blog Format

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Over the past 18 months, AOL (NYSE: TWX) has proven willing to break a few molds. This time, it’s rebuilding its news site — until now part of the portal cookie-cutter set — into a bloggy/Web 2.0ish version. The main news column literally is in blog format with links to full coverage, comments, polls, etc. The actual launch is scheduled for Tuesday; the beta is here. Lewis D’Vorkin, SVP-AOL News and Sports, is following on the blog-style format used with raging success, an AOL JV with sibling Warner Bros.

Unlike its gossipy counterpart, AOL is losing audience. It still claims to be in the top four news sites with 19.1 million monthly uniques in May, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) Media Metrix, but it has been losing ground; that number represents a 12 percent drop. This is the best shot for a boost — beyond the kind of major event that ups all numbers.

Reuters: D’Vorkin said the ability to personalize the news page will come in the next two to three months, using technology the company acquired from Relegence, a financial news services company. (Rafat adds: Glad to see they’re putting that almost-forgotten acquisition to some use.) AOL’s sports site will also relaunch later this week following a similar design model.

One Response to “AOL Relaunches News Site In Blog Format”

  1. Before we get too excited, or not excited enough, remember that the purpose of a news site is to inform, no to make sure we all get along or participate in some kind of social experiment about equality.

    Seconds before this writing AOL News fills its page with the news — from just after midnight, though updated 20 minutes ago — that Paris Hilton has been released from jail. It assures me about the importance of this event by placing it under a banner that says: “Top Stories Right Now” (I digress, but isn’t the “Right Now” part redundant, a little shout of unneeded emphasis that tries to convince me of something we both know isn’t true?) And yes, I see on AOL the tiny list of “latest headlines” to the right of Paris’ head, a nod to the “see — we are actually prioritizing the news!” criticism they must have anticipated.

    Yahoo!, using the same amount of above-the-fold space, tells me “U.S. troops target bomb networks,” “Pivotal vote looms on immigration,” and “Firefighters gain ground on Calif. blaze.”

    This is news, and it isn’t good.

    The “blog” approach is something some news outlets should employ. They should be open to all kinds of new possibilities and experiment and risk failure. My own mantra is that the solution to the woes facing small newspapers will be addressed, in part, by their use of “real blogs with real people and real voices,” as Jeff Jarvis says, or more probably reinvent themselves as blogs as many niche players already have.

    But at the national level, it looks like a major disservice masquerading as hip that panders to an audience who doesn’t know what they are missing — literally.