It was hard to take the news seriously that AOL, whose top editor Arianna Huffington is being sued for getting rich on the labor of unpaid bloggers, wants to recruit 8,000 unpaid bloggers over the next eight days. But it's true. Patch.com, the company's network of 800 local news sites, is looking to add 10 bloggers to each of its sites by May 4.
If you're wondering where they're going to find these people, the answer is all around you. The site wants to add muscle to its Community Voices blogs, due to launch the first week of May. "We’re not necessarily looking for people already [blogging] online," one Patch editor told The Atlantic Wire. "I think there are a lot of people who write long comments on stories and clearly have a lot to say but they don’t have their own blog at the moment."
So commenters are one potential source for these overstretched editors, but each site can't count on recruiting (or even having) 10 regular commenters. So they're looking at friends, acquaintances, "just people who are permanent in the community, people who we know are active," our source said.
Forbes's Jeff Bercovici got ahold of yesterday's memo directing the recruitment of the new bloggers:
“As for the question of why we are moving this fast after the go-slow approach presented on Friday, let me address that here: we’re a startup,” Farnham wrote [emphasis his]. “You’ve heard that before and it’s going to remain true for some time. You all signed on knowing this was a young company, and while no one likes a fire drill, at the same time you have to get used to changes and moving fast if you want to be a Patch editor.”
They're doing their best. A search for Patch Community Voices turned up thousands of recruitment ads on local sites. Our source has recruited two writers since yesterday, one regular commenter and one via social media. Eight more to go.