The News in Jersey 8/20/2013: Crisis at Patch



Patch podcastThe recent news about massive layoffs by Patch was particularly resonant in New Jersey, which is where Patch launched in 2009. In a wide-ranging discussion, we discussed Patch’s business model, its execution and its relationship with independent hyperlocals.

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Copyright 2013 NJ News Commons
8 comments
njnewssire
njnewssire

As a former Patch freelancer, it is true Patch has lost it's excellence and point. I was with Patch from the beginning and laid off 1.5 years later.

MaryMann
MaryMann

@daverosshk 

BTW, if you need to reach me, I'm at mary@njnewscommons.org. My office number is 973-655-5554.

MaryMann
MaryMann

Personally, I worked with many, many fine journalists at Patch. I wish we had time to talk about all of them: Paul Milo is doing heroic work in Newark (where he was formerly joined by the stupendous Lia Eustachewich). Theresa Akersten managed three towns without seeming to break a sweat in the Caldwells, Jessica Remo has some serious crime and social issues to deal with in Clark, Toniann Antonelli did a beautiful job dealing with post-Irene flooding in Cranford, Marcia Worth navigated difficult school issues like a tightrope walker in South Orange, Karen Yi stood up to a tough police department in West Orange ... I could go on and on. Really such a terrific group of people.

MaryMann
MaryMann

getfaxright,

Keep listening. It gets better. We go on to talk about great reporters like Jen Connic (the original Millburn, NJ editor) and Cotton Delo (the original South Orange editor). Both had worked as journalists before Patch, both were single living in apartments, and both did a terrific job.

getfaxright
getfaxright

I'm only 12 minutes into this, and I think this is complete crap. I worked for Patch, and not everyone there was "young" and "dumb." MANY had come from decades of newspaper experience! ALSO, WHAT? Many reporters have always moved to a city and covered a beat, and their families didn't live in the towns they were covering since 1928. That doesn't mean they couldn't cover the community. Just because you live in an apartment doesn't mean you can't cover property tax stories well. This is completely inane and these are lame, whiny "arguments" against Patch. Just because you're young doesn't mean you're not a great journalist. And AGAIN, Patch didn't just hire people straight out of college. In fact, everyone in my entire state had worked at a media outlet BEFORE coming to Patch except one person.

davidrosshk
davidrosshk

Hello, I didn't apologize.  Mary, you effectively called me a drunk and a child in a state university-funded podcast (a bit higher profile than a one-off private e-mail from four years ago, which was petulant, but never insulting).    That's why I'm here.    This is how you help organizations work cooperatively with tax dollars?   I'm sorry, but I'm not taking this lightly. 

MaryMann
MaryMann

@davidrosshk Thanks for adding to the conversation.

In the end (and if you truly listened to the podcast), it looks like we agree on the basic, central premise of the podcast: Patch is still struggling to provide good local content on a consistent basis across sites (and is struggling to find a workable business plan).


Also, you clearly missed Steve Johnson and I both complementing MOL during the podcast. I did not use the term "chat" or "threads" as negatives. I was describing how MOL functions: Users can start threads and add to discussions: no fact checkers or journalists are employed by MOL (please correct me if I'm wrong). However, it is an excellent source of information. At the moment, with SO/M Patches sans editors, it is the only timely local online resource for locals. And it appears to be a resource with a good business plan!

I did not reveal your name with regard to the unsolicited inflammatory email that you sent more than four years ago; it is your choice to do so here. I would posit that it is utterly ridiculous to send such an email unsolicited to someone's private email account and expect privacy. I did not ask for you to send such an email, and I made no promises of privacy. You attacked me merely for the fact that I had accepted work as a freelance writer in my community. I had no knowledge of a Patch plan to destroy MOL (and I still have not been presented with evidence; the fact that Patch reps met with you about purchasing MOL does not prove any intent to destroy). In addition, my comments here were clearly humorous and sarcastic (implying that you were neither inebriated nor juvenile). I did however plainly state that I understood the vitriol since Patch and MOL would be competing for the same local ad dollars. Nonetheless, I accept your apology - although it is four and a half years late!

Your personal experiences with Joe Strupp aside, it is a fact that he has worked as a journalist for 25+ years at outlets like Editor & Publisher and Media Matters.

Finally, I apologize for not calling you before this podcast. We had Virginia Citrano (and Debbie Galant) as our representatives of indie hyperlocals for this podcast. I agree that it would have been best to have you on to discuss MOL. However, the conversation was not fully scripted beforehand. The podcast was not intended to be about MOL (and mostly it wasn't); it centered on what went wrong at Patch. We'd love to have you or Jamie on for a future podcast — perhaps where we talk about hyperlocal sites like MOL that are succeeding.



davidrosshk
davidrosshk

So now it's ok to share private emails in a public podcast?  With a personal attack about me drinking (I wasn't) and being 12 yrs old (I wasn't).     And you  consider Joe Strupp--a longtime troll on MaplewoodOnlilne with numerous accounts and best-known for posting spam links-- to be an example of a "serious journalist".   He may well be, but certainly not to my knowledge.  However, i'm not a professional.  

 You go on to express your view that a cordial approach is best, which apparently doesn't apply to all.  You claim you didn't have directives from Patch to put local web sites out of business, but you didn't have the sit down conversations we had with Patch founders who first approached MOL to inquire about its price.  All you have is what Patch management has fed you about how they would handle competition.    I can sit at my desk and make things up, as well, but it's kind of like talking to oneself, isn't it?    If I were going to be a news professional, I would likely call people for a quote or some background if I were planning to mention certain things as facts or personally attack people (even in a joking manner).  That would be a cordial approach.  A professional approach. 

What is local news these days, anyway?   I went to Baristanet's Maplewood page and there's a mention of a Blink-182 concert as the lead story.    Maplewood Patch has a story about a new billboard in town.     No mention of a person shooting at football players that happened in a Maplewood park over 24 hours ago.   That news was posted on MOL (a "chat site," in your demeaning parlance) as a press release from MPD following initial reports from posters... on MOL.    

NJ News Commons:  "helping news organizations work cooperatively."   Great.  

Make it so.