Layoffs and Changes for Slashfood [maybe?]

Slashfood is about to undergo some serious changes as part of a relaunch of AOL's lifestyle blogs as online magazines, according to multiple anonymous sources cited by ReadWriteWeb.

Lead bloggers at the "lifestyle blogs", sites like Gadling, ParentDish and SlashFood, have been told that they will be terminated in February but have apparently been told not to tell their staffs yet. These shuttered sites will be relaunched "magazine style," highly edited, presumably long-form and no longer written by the rag-tag bunch of aspiring journalists that Weblogs has long paid dollars per article.

Stephanie Dolgins, SVP & GM, Women's & Lifestyle Programming at AOL, responded and vehemently denied the news. ReadWriteWreb delivered her denial with the editorial aside "Take that for what it's worth, for now we believe our original source on this."

Slashfood, one of the older group food blogs, got its start in August of 2005 as a member of Weblogs, Inc, which was then sold to AOL.

After staff cuts last year, AOL has let Slashfood languish — a cursory look at their Sitemeter statistics reveals that traffic is down year-over-year, and, we can only assume, so is revenue. Under the shadows of the successful Weblogs, Inc sites like Engadget and AutoBlog, Slashfood's website hasn't seen any fundamental redesign other than enhanced commenting that graced all the other Weblogs, Inc websites, and, if we do say so ourselves, it has an amateurish feel, what with all the poorly-optimized images and five-days-late content. The all-comers-welcome editorial threshold and low pay (word on the street is it's $5 a post) can't be helping.

AOL's got a decent, well-known brand with Slashfood, but the food blog world is a competitive environment. They've got three options: 1. kill it off, 2. let it slowly waste away in its current state, or 3. improve the design and infuse some more talent and better writing. Let's hope the rumors are true — if Liza Minnelli can make a wildly successful comeback, why can't a newly revitalized Slashfood?

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