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Posts Tagged ‘Patch’

Patch logoA colleague asked for my thoughts on the latest round of Patch layoffs and the decline and possible demise of the company.

My first thought is sincere best wishes and empathy for the hundreds of Patch employees losing their jobs (and those who earlier lost their jobs), including some friends.

Patch hired a lot of good journalists and did an excellent job covering a lot of communities (including the area where I live and many communities covered by my Digital First Media colleagues). We just hired Don Wyatt, a Patch editor, as our vice president for news in Michigan. Whenever journalists lose jobs, I hope for better opportunities around the next corner.

I won’t pretend that I ever studied Patch closely. When it launched, I was focused intensely on the launch of another much-hyped local news product, TBD. When a member of our TBD Community Network expressed concern about competition from Patch, I blogged about the possibility of collaborating with competitors, but otherwise I haven’t had much to say about it.

From TBD I moved to DFM (then the Journal Register Co.), where I had a similar intense focus on my duties on this job. So Patch has always been on the edge of my consciousness, but never a topic of concentration.

Granting that I didn’t study it closely, it always appeared to me that Patch was more innovative and experimental in trying to develop a new approach to local news coverage than it was to developing a new approach to local commerce.

I thought Patch had the potential to develop and succeed at moving beyond advertising into more meaningful revenue sources. I thought its national scale and digital roots gave it potential to develop some of the revenue sources I have encouraged news organizations to explore, such as databases, local search, direct sales and commissioned obituaries and other life stories.

If Patch tried any such innovative approaches at generating revenue, I never became aware of them. And they certainly never succeeded in building a sustainable business.

I welcome a guest post from anyone who has watched Patch closely or who worked for Patch. Maybe you can answer better than me: Why didn’t Patch succeed?

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Amtrak has identified the woman killed by the train I rode home on a week ago. I live-tweeted what I could see and learn about the fatality during the delay of nearly three hours on my return trip from New York Feb. 24,

I’m not sure whether it took nearly a week to identify the victim and inform her family, whether Amtrak police were slow about providing information or whether news organizations were slow to follow up, but it took nearly a week for anyone to update reports on the accident. (more…)

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Howard Owens is one of the smartest journalism entrepreneurs in the business. He launched The Batavian as a digital challenger to the Batavia Daily News in New York, and his small business is thriving.

I was interested yesterday to see that Howard had blogged with some advice for local websites competing with Patch. I had written about the challenge presented by Patch a few weeks ago, and was interested to see what Howard had to say. Not surprisingly, his advice on competition was more detailed and better than mine. But I had also noted the potential for turning Patch into a collaborator or a customer. So after tweeting a link to Howard’s post, I tweeted a link to my own. (more…)

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A member of the TBD Community Network recently emailed me with this subject line: “Yikes! Patch is moving in on my territory.”

Hundreds of local bloggers, news sites and newspapers are no doubt having the same reaction. Patch, the local news project of AOL, has launched nine sites recently in the Washington area: Wheaton (the site that first reported the police search Thursday of a home where they believe James J. Lee lived), College Park, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, Silver Spring and Takoma Park in Maryland and Burke, Reston and Woodbridge in Virginia.

By the end of the year, Patch plans to launch sites in 500 communities in more than 20 states. The main Patch website lists about 20 more in Maryland and Virginia and one in Georgetown, but Patch’s Beth Lawton tweets that the the Baltimore and Washington areas combined will have about 75 Patches total.

What’s the small local blogger to do? “I’m trying to build page views and won’t be able to compete against a major corporation,” our network member wrote. “What do you think I should do differently?” (more…)

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