When AOL announced its plan to merge with Time Warner, Yahoo turned up its nose at content aggregators transforming themselves into content creators.
"We are not changing our strategy in light of this deal," Yahoo chief executive Tim Koogle told the Wall Street Journal. "We have created a distribution platform that is hugely valuable, and that path is not wavering."
But it could be expanding -- to include some content production, like video.
"The folks at Yahoo are moving into the broadcast medium and we're looking for fresh young talent to help us get on the air," reads an ad posted on bulletin boards at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism and e-mailed to alumni.
According to the ad, Yahoo is "seeking all positions from production assistants, to writers, directors, technical crew members and even floor crew producers," and that those already involved "are veterans from CNN, ABC and local stations like KNTV in San Jose."
Spokeswoman Diane Hunt wouldn't confirm that the Internet directory is gearing up to produce its own shows. She says that the advertised positions relate to Yahoo's April acquisition of Broadcast.com, a streaming media service that offers radio and TV clips. "We're always looking into everything, but these positions aren't related to anything specific," she said.
When was the last time your company hired people for non-specific jobs? Besides, Yahoo Broadcast, as Broadcast.com is now called, has never been a producer of video content. "They're basically a distributor of video and audio content," says David Card, an analyst at Jupiter Communications. "That's roughly analogous to a broadcast TV network, but only roughly, the difference being that a network owns some of their programming and Broadcast.com does not. It owns nothing."
Apparently, the picture is changing. Another Yahoo job listing hints at the kind of content Yahoo is looking to produce.
Under the title "Webcaster," Yahoo says it is seeking "smart folks to host a two-hour daily live, free form, completely ad-libbed, streamed online show about the technology industry and investing in technology stocks."
Hunt wouldn't clarify the link, if any, between the two ads, nor offer any specifics about the show mentioned in the ad. But a job applicant says she was told that the TV talk-show style program will appear on Yahoo's financial site, launching in as little as two months.
Jon Goodman, director of EC2@USC, a business incubator and media research center funded by the University of Southern California, says if Yahoo really does hope to master video talk shows, it will need to create a hybrid, mixing the slick-pacing and editing of television with spontaneous interactivity of the Web.
"A lot of the visual and narrative style of television, whether it's one hour or a half-hour, is completely understood in television," says Goodman. "That knowledge will have to be combined with Internet knowledge in order for online television to be publicly accepted."
That might be difficult -- but certainly no more so than merging AOL and Time Warner.
Damien Cave is an associate editor at Rolling Stone and a contributing writer at Salon. MORE FROM Damien Cave
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