J300: News Writing and Reporting

A Conversation With the Patch

Three years ago, the word patch could have referred to a piece of cloth used to cover holes in a pair of pants or the action of mending such holes.  Today, capitalize the p and you have the name of a new, online, hyperlocal news platform that has grown from 8 to 1,000 Patches in just three years.  Patch is a network of news sites that cover individual towns in over 20 states from New York to California.

“The whole idea of Patch is to know what’s going on in your own backyard,” said Amanda Linder, the editor of the Half Hollow Hills Patch, which covers the towns of Melville and Dix Hills, N.Y.

After graduating college, Linder started working for a traditional print newspaper.  The Half Hollow Hills Patch was looking for a new editor at the time, and recruiters found Linder’s profile on Linked In, a professional networking website, and presented her with an offer to take over the Patch.  She attributes her being contacted by Patch to tags on her profile like “community journalism” and “new media.”  Employers use these keywords to search for people who possess their desired skills and qualifications.

Patch is unique from other news websites in that it is a strictly online format.  In contrast, many news sites are simply online versions of print media that are experiencing declining circulation and need to maintain their readership by moving off the page and onto the screen, where most people get their news these days.  “I saw firsthand the dying business of print journalism and now I’m experiencing the growing and expanding world of online media,” Linder said.  She doesn’t expect print media to survive the next 10 years, except for maybe the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Advertising on Patch is also unique.  Its hyperlocal format allows area businesses to target the exact customer base that will be passing them every day.  Linder said that when she looks at her Patch, all of the ad spaces are full.  This is good news as a majority of the company’s revenue is generated by national and local advertising campaigns.

Each Patch has one, fulltime editor.  Other writing and reporting is done by freelance.  There are 8 to 12 Patches in what’s known as a cluster, and each cluster has an editor as well.  Clusters on Long Island, for example, are overseen by a Long Island editor, which is overseen by an East Coast editor.  This hierarchy of oversight ensures high-quality journalism at all levels of operation.

Patch is owned by AOL Media Corp. along with the Huffington Post.

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