AOL (NYSE: AOL) media chief David Eun said he was serious about AOL’s journalism. Following a spate of editorial departures, Eun has hired digital news vet Jon Dube as SVP/GM of AOL News and Information — filling the role being vacated by AOL vet Marty Moe. Dube, who left as VP of ABCNews.com over the summer with a voluntary buyout, will be responsible for AOL News, Tech, Finance and Sports.
Update: Dube is on a train to DC for the Online News Association’s conference and after a few dropped calls, we decided to talk about the new gig by email.
A veteran of MSNBC.com and CBC.ca, in addition to ABCNews.com, Dube says he went to AOL because CEO Tim Armstrong’s vision “is right in line with my personal passions” of transforming media through technology. (Dube has been publishing online journalism site cyberjournalist.net since 2000.) “I’ve been incredibly impressed by Tim’s vision for AOL and by his and David Eun’s commitment to building the media network of the future. I’ve also met with a lot of people at AOL — executives and journalists — and been blown away with the quality of people they have been hiring. I can honestly say in my career I’ve never encountered an organization with such an amazing combination of both digital talent and journalism talent.”
Patch, AOL’s new local news and info network, and Seed, its freelance content platform, don’t report to Dube but he said he expects to work closely with them. And, alothough he’s responsible for tech coverage, TechCrunch isn’t in his portfolio either; the high-profile acquisition will continue to report directly to Eun.
He’s aware — it would be hard not to be — of the concerns some have expressed about AOL’s commitment to professional journalism (despite Patch’s major hiring push) compared with its “amateur” efforts. When I asked if his new role is a journalism job, Dube, a former ONA president, replied: “This is certainly a journalism job. We are trying to build the news site of the future. Every organization I’ve worked for – MSNBC.com, CBC.ca, ABCNews.com – has published a wide variety of content, from original staff-written journalism to user-generated material – as have most of our competitors. This is a rapidly evolving medium and no one has all the answers yet. Any smart media organization needs to be willing to experiment if they are going to innovate.” (The exec he is replacing, by the way, didn’t have a journalism background but Moe had emphasized the value of professional journalism at AOL.)
In addition to helping its journalism rep, Dube’s hiring should be a plus for AOL in another regard — his video experience. Armstrong and Eun have talked up the role of video for the portal, and much of the success of the new Google (NSDQ: GOOG) search deal hinges on it. Dube hasn’t started his new job yet so no details. As for the role of video, “I think video has to be a key part of any news site these days — there’s huge demand for it from both audiences and advertisers and it’s a powerful way to tell stories.”
Dube starts Monday. In the meantime, he’ll be on hand for Armstrong’s ONA keynote Q&A Friday.