About.com in Negotiations to be Sold from the New York Times

Well, there is nothing like hearing that the place where you work will be sold. As a freelance writer, this is nothing new to me, though the story is getting old. I’m not sure if “content is king” anymore; I think it was, but Google is having all kinds of fun ruining these types of businesses. I wonder if Google thought of the thousands of jobs it was going to kill when it started the Panda revolution. As if our economy wasn’t bad enough.

At the moment, it is hard to say whether the About.com biz will be sold, however I think we’ll know for sure in the next few weeks (if not sooner), whether the sale has gone through. All I know is that many people in operations have said “adieu” since the announcement in the Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2012. There are over 900 freelance writers that are “guides” on the About.com site. I wonder how many of us will be left after the dust settles. Unfortunately, since we’re freelance writers, we cannot collect unemployment. I wonder how many of my fellow freelancers will be able to afford their apartments, car payments and living expenses if they are let go.

I remember when I started working for About.com. I thought “Hey, this is a good gig. The New York Times is a solid company. It isn’t likely to dry up like some of the other content sites I’ve worked for.” Today, I am left wondering which direction to take in my career: focus on writing content, or focus solely on writing books. I don’t know which path is safer, the road less traveled, or that of economic certainty. What I do know is that there is no such thing as economic certainty, or Kodak would still be top dog in the cinema biz.

I worry that the New York Times is doing something similar to Kodak. When Kodak had the opportunity to go digital, they thought it was a passing fancy. Within a few years, they were no longer the leader in their market. Is the New York Times doing something similar- saying “no” to digital editions and the Internet in order to save the paper edition of the newspaper? Perhaps embracing the future and the digital age would be a better way to go and move away from the physical paper edition. It will be interesting to see how they fare after they’ve said “no” to the digital age.

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