Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, March 14, 2013 8:42 pm

Former “Patch” editor explains why it didn’t, couldn’t work, which anyone in newspapers could have told Patch and many did. Years ago.

Whocouldaknowed, am I right?

Ken Layne [interviewer for The Awl]: So you are a newspaper reporter and editor, and at some point you decided to “go digital” and get a job with the hyperlocal sites run by AOL. How and when did this happen?

Sammy [Sturgeon, pseudonymous former Patch editor]: ‪Well, I’d been laid off and was desperate. I had enough connections that I was able to get an audience with the Patch people, and somebody kind of shooed me in.‬ This was about three years ago.

Ken: Patch was expanding at that point, right.

Sammy: Wildly. The news from New York—where all the MBAs who run Patch live—was that everything was “really exciting,” all the time. “Oh my god, gang, we have some really exciting news. We have launched 11 more sites this past week! We’re super excited.”‬


Ken: But the concept was that local reporters would cover local news, like high-school sports and planning commission meetings and neighborhood police blotters, right?

Sammy : That was the concept, originally. Then the MBAs 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!‬


  1. It’s a shame. I really like the idea of Patch, and I know a lot of good people who’ve gone to work for them. I’d be lost without the Vienna Patch. Who else is going to cover Vienna? The Post? Ha. The local weeklies that are basically real estate shoppers with a little bit of news from the Town Council? Well, a little. Patch is awesome. I really wish the ad side would catch up.

    Comment by bdure — Thursday, March 14, 2013 8:59 pm @ 8:59 pm

  2. From what I’ve seen of Patch in various locales, the quality varies tremendously, depending on who’s running the local site and the quality of the contributors/freelancers that he/she can recruit. If Patch is working well in Vienna, more power to it. But Jeff Sykes (who commented on the FB version of this post) is right: Hyperlocal news doesn’t scale reliably, the key word being “reliably.” Add to that the fact that the “New York MBAs” the interviewee mentions have no idea how to start, let alone scale, hyperlocal advertising that’s worth a damn, and you’ve got a recipe for failure even before you throw in Arianna Huffington’s notion that anyone should be pleased to work for her for free just for the “prestige.”

    Comment by Lex — Friday, March 15, 2013 8:58 am @ 8:58 am

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