The AOL-backed chain of hyper-local news sites, including several that are operating or planned in the Bay Area, is on a hiring spree, according to the Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger, where Patch just opened its 100th site in Morristown, N.J.

    Upstart hyperlocal ventures are increasingly vying for a piece of what they say is an untapped gold mine in local advertising dollars. Yet to be seen, though, is evidence that the sites can develop long-term, sustainable business models.
    “Something like Patch was eventually going to happen,” said Kip Cassino, vice president of research at Borrell Associates, a media analyst firm. “Newspapers felt that as long as they owned the content, they were unassailable. History has proven them wrong.”
    Patch was founded and bankrolled in 2008 by Tim Armstrong, a former Google vice president who became AOL’s chief executive last year. Under Armstrong, AOL quickly bought Patch for an undisclosed sum and pursued an aggressive franchising strategy, investing $50 million this year to expand Patch nationally.

And this from Forbes, which also has a story today about Patch:

    “This is the largest area on the Internet that hasn’t been won,” said Jon Brod, executive vice president of AOL Local, Mapping and Ventures. “Amazon has commerce, and eBay has auctions, but a big part of your income is spent at home, it’s where you spend most of your time.”

Bay Area Media News

10 Comments

  1. First there was Sidewalk, followed by Digital Cities, Sidewalk, Backfence and now Patch. This concept of a national chain of micronews sites has never worked. People just don't like corporate websites, even if they attempt to look local.

  2. Patch is not a newspaper. It has no experienced reporters and little credibility in the communities it serves. It's a well-designed web page that covers news one or two full-timers submit and mostly part-timers write but noticeably reworks articles real newspapers publish.

  3. $35,000-$39,000 minimum plus benefits is pretty good money for a journalist in these final days of newspapers. Enjoy having the big bucks while you can; it won't last much longer.

  4. Actually the BANG contract calls for a minimum wage of $18.75/hour. Assuming you can get a 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year, you can eek out $39,000. But given the furloughs, the best you can hope for is about $35,000. Not to quibble, but to some of us, the dollars actually matter.

  5. Dean Singleton/Media News/BANG pays journalists $40,000 a year minimum, with medical benefits. Patch pays $50 for story you spent a week reporting, of course no benefits. Patch is just another slave-wages content farm pretending to be a local news operation. Ignore it and wait for it to die.

  6. One reason why Patch might succeed: Dean Singleton. They've picked communities where Singleton budget-cutting has resulted in little or no news coverage. Patch is just filling a void created by corporate greed.

  7. Who cares if they have a business plan? That's their problem. Our problem is that we got to be getting paid! So the question is, can Patch put any money in you pocket? Not much. According to multiple listings on Craigslist, they will pay you $50-$200 per story they accept. How much time, effort and gasoline you want to put into a ''sorry, we don't need this story now" is up to you. This definitely ain't work from home. They want you putting lots of (non-reimbursed) miles on the car.

  8. I don't think there is a clear business plan here, either, and I wonder what will happen in a year or two when the money gets tight. Investors will want to see some return on their investment. My guess is that it will become much like the Examiner site, where hundreds of amateur journalists post unedited "stories" and are paid pennies for every thousand hits they get — maybe $20 or $30 a day.

  9. I'd probably apply for one of these jobs, but I don't see how it will last. There's no business model. I mean nobody has been able to make much money selling local ads on the internet. Backfence failed trying to do just that. I can't even see how they'd get much national advertising interest from 500 sites. The might be able to sell national ads, but not for much money. I'd like to hear others chime in on the business model at play here (if there is one).

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