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GateHouse Brookline reporter defects to AOL's would-be GateHouse killer

Neal Simpson, who's spent the past three years covering Brookline for the Tab and Wicked Local, sent out e-mail today to announce he'll be working for Patch, which is taking on GateHouse and Globe YourTown sites in Boston's leafier suburbs. He promises Brookline Patch will be "stocked with breaking news, local info and plenty of opportunities for you to get involved."

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I'm curious where else Patch will try to expand around here.

Judging by this patch in Connecticut, it looks like they are mixture of news, user-generated blog content, community happenings, and Yellow Pages-style listings.

What's missing? Comments and revenue. That particular patch has a lot of appeals for both (commenting is allowed on articles after registration, and there is a dedicated sales force and self-serve ads) but I only saw one comment (by one of the regular writers) and no ads (meaning little or no revenue). AOL will need to fix both if the model is to work.

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They were advertising for reporters there. They were also advertising for an ad shmooozer in Sudbury.

Pure speculation, but I think they'll try to make money in a couple of ways: One is "traditional" - send out salespeople to sell banner ads. But that'll be tough in a market where you've already got a couple of established players, especially when your product isn't really all that different from theirs. Given how much money they're putting into building local business directories, I'm betting they'll also be trying a Yellow Pages approach - everybody gets a listing for free, but if you want to unlock the full-featured Web-page-ish profile, pay a fee. They really should just buy City Squares and be done with it.

Looks like they're in the let's expand like maniacs stage; but, yeah, at some point they need to start bringing in dollars.

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