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!
Bay Area Media News

5 Comments

  1. Patch was a resting place for reporters who lost their jobs at traditional papers, and needed time to figure out their next move.

  2. Patch expanded too quickly and isn't well capitalized. It will probably fizzle out or be converted into something else, like a classifieds site or a place to find out about community events.

  3. Nobody knows what Patch is, except for journalists and PR types in city governments. Patch isn't advertised or promoted in any way that would cause the typical person to find it.

  4. There's a lot of potential with Patch, but it doesn't know its strengths and weaknesses. Its strength is speed. It did a good job on some breaking news, but usually it's behind even the prints, much less broadcast. It should find a need and fill it. Imagine if youth coaches put scores on Patch after each game. That alone would increase users.
    Patch seems confused about form and function. I attended a ceremony for a soldier and Patch ran a few minutes of video of someone talking. There was a lot more to report.
    Then there's the hijacking by people who dominate the comment threats dit dah dit dah did dah.

  5. That interview originally ran in The Awl last month. Interesting that there is no mention or credit linking back to the original story.

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