Local Patch sites get even patchier in latest round of layoffs

Patch, the once promising hyperlocal network, today took a scythe to its remaining workforce, laying off hundreds of employees.

Locally, Chris Orchard, editor of Somerville Patch, announced his layoff. The editors of the Belmont, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Braintree, Charlestown, Hingham, Jamaica Plain, Malden, Melrose, Milton, Roslindale, Waltham, West Roxbury and Weymouth Patch sites were apparently let go - all of their profile pages on their sites have been deleted.

Some of the sites were already being edited from remote locations, following an earlier round of layoffs between August and October.

AOL recently announced it was essentially handing over the chain of local news sites to Hale Global, a "technology holding company" with offices in Burlington.

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Malden and Melrose Patch

Mark Ouellette, editor of the Malden Patch and Melrose Patch, has been axed. His profile page gets a 404 error on both sites.

Frankly, I'm not surprised. I say it time and time again, but Dan DeMania and Chris Caesar totally had Melrose and Malden covered. They were really into it and it showed. Content has been on the decline without them, and from the looks of it, this isn't the only area where talent was lost and the pressure was on to feed the readers mundane crap.

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Boo

Add Waltham to the list. Ryan was great. He seemed to be everywhere all the time and was great about involving local officials or police in the conversation. I loved his ultra-local reporting. There wasn't always super big news to report but when something happened he was ON IT and followed up. I'm sad!

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At what point...

...Does Adam just buy the remaining Patch sites from Hale with the coins we donate from our sofa cushions and use it as a springboard to global regional domination?

I have about 45lbs of pennies in some coffee cans to donate to the cause. Who else is in?

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Being a Boston Gal

I looked at a few Patch sites in my hood and my friends' when we were going out. I never once saw something I hadn't seen somewhere else first, better, and more readable. I mean when you're consistently beat by Metro, you're in trouble. It was always sort of a surprise to hear about each round of layoffs because it never appeared that people actually worked there. The news/reviews all seemed to be identical. Too bad about the suburban branches, though, where people seem to have liked their staff.

If making money wasn't an issue...

...anyone who could ask questions and put words together sensibly, who could also customize themselves a nice wordpress site, could get in the game.

I worried about patch at first, but it never came to my city. My city of 91k still has a daily and I've sort of settled in on what I think is a niche that doesn't take away from them. I don't do hard news. I do what they haven't been able to manage: Mainly, a comprehensive events calendar, music, arts, embedded city council video without written story or commentary, and crowd-sourced image galleries when the weather gets interesting enough to do so. I put up event flyers and announcements, some fancier than others, on the same space as more flushed out stories. I'm also more on the ball with school and parking ban announcements, somehow, but perhaps that's because I'm well practiced in paying attention to those things from being a teacher.

Anyway, I'm putting myself out there as an example because I think it's possible to replace patch with sites run out of dens, attics and basements that are a level up from blogs and a level down from full-on papers, if you fill a niche that your local paper doesn't want or fails to adequately deliver content in.

You might even make a small profit in your new side job, if you promote the heck out of it in social media and slowly retrain your city's media habits. In my example, the only overhead is my small monthly hosting fee and the occasional cheap run of business cards. No actuall employees, no problem.

If you want it to be a real business, that's another matter.. not sure my market would support it. I guess patch was able to determine that when they opened up in every city/town adjacent to mine.

agree with that; best hyperlocal is free

I don't know if I would say that "anyone who could ask questions and put words together sensibly" can do it...but YES, this is the challenge. If you have a few hours a day and you really care about your community, then you can fill the void. However, you can't quit your day job and you can't find the time to hustle the ad revenue you'd need to survive. Small profit? Maybe a $100/month? If you could set up a stream of such revenue, maybe that would be worth something, but it is hard enough to find time to do the few hours a day or week for just content, let alone selling advertising and sponsorship. In my case, the town is 14,000 people. The numbers are too small to work for any existing business model. But the "passionate local" model can work great as long as somebody has the time to do it.

I couldn't do it without my day job

You're not far off. I think with the population of Lynn, it's possible to do even better than $100 a month in revenue, but with the time that I have, mine rarely exceeds that amount. If I put more into sales, I know that I could, but I could never (nor do I want to) quit my day job.

I also have other responsibilities, boards I belong to, a neighborhood association, professional responsibilities related to my day job, and other secondary sources of income. In other words, I rely heavily on people providing me with content to post. I learned how to do that from my days running a public access tv facility. Yes, if you have the right kind of information on public access, people will even tune to _that_ channel. So, imagine how well it can work on the web, when the site delivers useful content and sheds the space constraints and schedule of the paper and the production value, relatively, is much higher.

I've been doing hyper local since joining the fight for LPFM in the mid-90's. I went from radio, to tv, to internet, and have carried a little bit of the best of each medium forward - well, what I like about each medium, at least.

/now that you have my resume...

I've been keeping an eye on communities that are launching non-profit hyper-locals, as well. But for http://lynnhappens.com, I think I'd like to keep it as is, save for a few extra features in the pipeline that will increase revenue and perhaps even allow me to hire someone part time. (Dreaming a bit, here..)

AdBlock

I have adblock installed on every computer I use. I wouldn't browse the web without it.

I value UH and would be more then happy to donate far more in cash then what he would get from my ad views if I didn't use a blocker. I wish I had that option.

Sad about the Patch

For a couple of years, The Patch was a good source of info. I was even thinking about ditching my West Roxbury Transcript subscription, as everything in there had already been covered in a more timely manner by The Patch. No more. I still look at the daily emails, but the amount of content now is pathetic.

RIP Patch.