A former Patch editor in Silicon Valley, who has returned to print journalism, says the higher-ups at the AOL-owned chain of local news websites didn’t realize how much it costs to gather local news, and their ad people had a hard time selling local ads.
The unidentified former Patch editor was interviewed by the Los Cerritos Newspaper Group in Southern California.
Regarding advertising, he said:
- “I wish I knew why the local merchants weren’t interested. We’re not just talking SF Bay Area, we’re talking SILICON VALLEY here. This is the place where dry cleaners know all about the CEO of Apple or whatever. And they just didn’t want to partake — I think they tried it here and there, and found no traction (although honestly I don’t remember seeing a single local ad on my own site).
- “It would appear that digital advertising lacks the oomph of print, for some reason.”
He said the Patch sites are nothing more than “glorified blogs.”
- “You’ll see some ‘local news,’ sort of — you’re just as likely to see a dumb ‘Top 5’ list designed to woo local advertisers, as in ‘Top 5 flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.’ There’s also a half-completed business directory, and in fact the first thing people do when they’re hired (and launching a site, I guess they’ve all been launched by now) is run around town taking pictures and typing in addresses and phone numbers of the local hair salons, etc.”
But he said Patch never had the money to provide local news.
- “The MBAs [who he said ran Patch] realized that that actually takes more manpower than they were able to afford. I guess they thought all that copy and content just sort of wrote itself!