AOL Loses EIC Nizza, Other Top Editors

Mike-Nizza

Mike Nizza, editor in chief of AOL News, is jumping ship for News Corp, AOL confirmed on Friday.

Also out is World Editor James Graff, who is departing to take the managing editor position at The Week, as well as James Burnett, AOL's enterprise editor, who has left for Rolling Stone. Daily Finance Senior Writer Sam Gustin, meanwhile, is on his way to Wired.

First reported by Reuters, the string of departures clearly disrupts AOL's broader content-centric strategy, which CEO Tim Armstrong has been pursuing for the last year.

Confirming the minor exodus, an AOL spokeswomen would only say: "We are building a world-class organization and are committed to being a leading producer of high-quality original content. And we are growing our organization every day."

As past of AOL's broader revival strategy, the company brought in David Eun as president of AOL Media and Studios earlier this year to "galvanize and build content networks of scale that can win," he told Online Media Daily. "I don't think it's a secret to say that the turnaround of AOL is hinged on content ... It's going to make or break [the company.]"

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To win the content game, AOL is presently hiring hundreds of journalists, editors and various multimedia creators to flesh out its content offerings.

According to Reuters, former AOL executives say current management is still "casting about for a content strategy, shifting priorities and resources away from content produced by professional journalists and toward other projects like $50 million dedicated to the hyperlocal Patch."

AOL would not comment on those claims, but it's fair to say that its recent acquisition of controversial tech blog TechCrunch caught the entire industry off guard.

Since March of last year, when Tim Armstrong left Google for AOL, a number of Google employees have followed his lead. Last April, Jeff Levick -- Google's then VP of industry development and marketing -- said he was jumping ship to serve as head of AOL's advertising business Platform-A.

In turn, Mike Rich, then SVP of AOL Entertainment -- including AOL Music, Moviefone, and AOL Television -- left in April. Bill Wilson -- who spent nine years as president of AOL Media -- left not long before.

Last September, meanwhile, AOL brought on ex-Google exec Shashi Seth as SVP of global advertising products. When Seth left Google, he was head of monetization for YouTube.

Eun himself joined AOL from Google, where as VP of strategic partnerships he was responsible for managing global content partnerships with Google and YouTube.

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