Thursday, May 19, 2011

Patch editors told to boost production

The website Street Fight, which covers the hyper local news industry, has obtained an email from Patch Editor-in-Chief Brian Farnham telling his local editors that they should increase the number of items posted each day on Patch's local sites. Patch has 800 sites nationwide including 30 in the Bay Area. Each site is devoted to one city and has its own staff reporting local news.

Farnham's argument is that unique pageviews will increase if editors post more items. Patch currently requires every site to post a minimum of four times per day.
    ... right now we’ve got 68 sites producing 6 or more articles per day, so we know it can be done. I can also say that because “article” does not have to mean “800 word piece.” And I can say that because of this: in South Florida, 14 sites just completed a three-month test that proved you can do 7 posts a day, hit your UV goals, come in under budget, and cut the LE work hours to between 40-50 hours/week. ... So not only is more production possible, done smartly it’s possible to do with less pain. ... 
    If one of your sites is producing less than 4 posts a day (and unfortunately, there are a lot of these — nearly 350) immediately talk to that editor about it. This should not be a punitive conversation, it should be a collaborative discussion about how to improve things. (Are they spending too much time reporting and writing long articles? Are they too caught up in editing freelancers?)”
When Street Fight asked Patch about the memo, a spokesperson said both the figure of 68 sites producing six or more stories a day was wrong as well as the figure of 350 sites producing less than four stories a day.

Farnham, in an interview with Street Fight, confirmed that Patch's new emphasis is on "quick hits," including smaller bits of news as well as daily photo posts.

3 comments:

Robert B. Livingston said...

I try to steer clear of such P.T. Barnum style journalism.

Such fluff-making joins other proven ploys to provide the illusion of readership:

Excessive linking.

Facebook and Twitter tags.

Clever hot-topic word choices and name-dropping that run to subjects outside the content (e.g. "homeless," or "Justin Bieber" sprinkled into stories about anything but).

A propensity to title stories with salacious hooks. (Look for typical Huffington Post links on Google's News page.)

Anonymous said...

There's already too many websites and newspapers emphasizing "quick hits" and photo stories. Patch might set itself apart by offering in-depth local coverage, with 800-word stories. This emphasis on quotas and quick hits makes me think Patch's days are numbered

Anonymous said...

Patch pays for stories so asking for more short ones means it must have money to spend. Perhaps the problem is readers, not reporters. Short stories could mean short attention spans. Also, I see a lot of videos accompanying pieces that are just four or five grafs. A picture is worth a thousand words but it took seven words to get that idea across. Seems Patch is doing what the news media has always done, but now with increasing speed - letting technology dictate coverage. Getting the news is not the same as getting the news out.