Monday, July 19, 2010

'Hyper local' news sites looking for journalists

Patch, an arm of AOL, is setting up a group of hyperlocal Web sites. Here's an announcement Patch is circulating:
    How would you like to run your own local news operation — a robust, relevant site that makes a real difference in people’s lives? With Patch, you can make it happen. We’re radically reinventing community journalism and looking for passionate people to help us bring the spirit of hometown news to the internet. 
    We’re currently seeking smart, innovative journalists to join our team as full-time online editors. When you join us, you’ll run your own news site, with control over all that goes into it — and with a network of colleagues and innovative technology to support you. As a Patch local editor, you’ll be helping to build your community by providing the hyper-local news and information that makes your town unique. 
    Patch welcomes journalists from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including those just starting their careers. If you’re interested in taking a lead role in defining the future of online journalism, learn more and apply at Patch.com/jobs. Patch is an equal opportunity employer.
Here's a list of cities where Patch needs journalists.

Ken Doctor, former Knight Ridder digital chief who is now a news industry analyst for Outsell, says:
    AOL’s Patch is ambitiously adding websites, lately going after MediaNews territory in the East Bay of the Bay Area — San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek and Pleasanton — and penetrating SoCal, from Fairfax and West Hollywood to Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Hundreds of local reporters are being hired as hundreds of new sites are being replicated from California to Illinois to Maryland to Rhode Island, joining the early sites in Connecticut and New Jersey. 
     On Thursday, San Ramon saw a big breaking news story, of a 24-year-old menacing police outside a 7-11. They shot and killed him, after a standoff. Take a look at the coverage and you can see that the Contra Costa Times’ story has more depth, background and nuance. Patch’s story is straightforward, but lacking in those same qualities. That quick comparison may be typical for how a newspaper responds to the big, breaking story — one of unusual suburban daily drama — as compared to AOL’s user-gen start-up.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This has been tried so many times. I think Back Fence was the last one to give this "hyperlocal" website thing a shot, and they closed less than a year ago. I hope Patch succeeds, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the administrative side of patch.com you'll realize that it's top heavy with former journalists, getting top dollar for what?
Are they really needed and why at such high salaries?
As for the content, sorely lacking in-depth news.
The other part, AOL, a loser all the way around. This will go along the way of dial-up connecting.

Anonymous said...

What's the pay? Who edits copy? The 7-11 story reads as if no one did. Does Patch "steal" local news? Lots of questions. I think something like this would work if it concentrated on stories the traditional locals missed.
There were 27 comments on the patch site about 7-11. That's not much for a big story - and some of them were made by the reporter.

Robert B. Livingston said...

The whole idea of businesses with shallow local roots hiring journalists makes me think of the private colleges that hire desperate teachers who in turn swindle hapless students by providing a shoddy, ersatz product. [See: http://tinyurl.com/33rbdeb]

Such enterprises seem more designed to please Wall Street than to provide a real opportunity or good future to professionals and those they were meant to serve.

Smart journalists would be better off setting up their own neighborhood and community (doesn't the word "hyperlocal" make you squirm?)-- or other innovative web outlets-- than working for some faceless corp squeezing every imaginable niche to improve its own income streams and deny them to all competitors.

Robert B. Livingston said...

Possible correction to my previous comment.

I hope I wrote "for-profit colleges" instead of "private colleges".

Anonymous said...

Most of these "reporters" are fresh out of college, or still at the community college level; no experience other than Patch.com.
It shows in the reporting and editing.
Patch.com won't die slow death but rather quickly.
As for online local news, why not a local community print newspaper. People are hungry for local news, why not give it to them.

Anonymous said...

Yawn! These sites are a collection of press releases, crime reports, city council meeting notes--nothing that is penetrating or insightful. A very small percentage of people in any community would find this interesting. Do some real journalism and watch your pageviews increase. But, of course, that means hiring real reporters, not meeting note-takers.