Patch to start combining sites?

A tipster who asks to be identified as “a person close to Patch” sends this report:

In New Jersey, Patch has made the decision to consolidate its Eatontown-Tinton Falls Patch with its Long Branch Patch.

The duties of covering this new “Super Patch” will fall into the able hands of Local Editor Christopher Sheldon. He’s a good journalist, but he’s faced with a potentially impossible task. (I should mention that I do not share the popular opinion that Patch employs nothing but inept or inexperienced journalists. During my tenure there, I saw more good than bad.)

His coverage area will now be over 30 square miles. It will include two universities, three high schools, the site of a former military base now facing redevelopment and four separate municipal governments, planning boards, zoning boards and school boards. This task stands in stark contrast to Patch’s original mission of over-serving a small, local market.

Patch has also made the decision to not make full-time hires for recent vacancies, instead paying contractors to do the full-time job of a Local Editor.

Patch spokesperson Janine Iamunno tells Romenesko readers:

The decision to consolidate some Patch sites was based on feedback from both employees and our users – not driven by HQ – and will actually help us cover our communities more effectively, and better support our local businesses. Our LE Chris Sheldon is part of a great team in place and is well-supported in his effort to cover his community.

The full-time hires line is actually not accurate at all. You can see from our Patch jobs page that we have a number of editorial hires open (local editors and regional editors alike).

Meanwhile, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson reports this morning that Patch is letting “many” sales people go due to “underperformance.”

Comments

comments

8 comments
  1. scribble said:

    Two Patch sites in my local area also combined this week. I don’t buy that this is a decision driven by user feedback.

    The two sites have been without local editors for months. The posts from users on each site have been asking for local coverage… not coverage of other neighboring communities.

    Strangely, it would make sense to combine some of the Patch sites in my area — but these two particular communities really have nothing in common.

  2. Perry Gaskill said:

    Maybe it’s just me, but Janine Iamunno is starting to sound a bit like Baghdad Bob. Unless of course that’s not the real Janine, in which case please disregard this comment.

  3. Anonymous said:

    Just wanted to throw my two cents into the most recent Patch spin cycle. I applied for a full-time Local Editor gig in my neighborhood in January; I believe the job had been posted originally in late November/early December. I had the preliminary interview with a recruiter, who outlined the (ridiculously) long interview process. The next step would have been an interview with the Regional Editor, then a sit-down with another Local Editor within the Region, a freelance assignment, then … unless I’m missing a step here? … another phone interview with another higher-up. Despite my experience in hyperlocal news — which includes editing newspapers with a structure very similar to Patch’s, where the editor is the one-man-band running the show and creating most of the content — I didn’t even get an interview with the Regional Editor. I was disappointed, but figured they would go with someone who had more experience covering the neighborhood (I’m a transplant). Nope. The position remains open, five months later. Although they did replace the first “Guest Editor” with a second one a few weeks after they turned me down. I’m definitely bitter about not even getting a real interview, no doubt about it — but I just wanted to point out that while the list of Local Editor job openings continues to grow on the Patch site, at least for my local site that seems to be a formality. Which is a shame, because the coverage continues to be lazy, unoriginal and self-serving.

  4. Whocares? said:

    Sounds like this is a solid business move and to the guy who whined about covering 40 square miles, wahh wahh. I covered a locality 400 square miles and did it well. I worked hard. Some of these LEs, fired or disgruntled, don’t get the fact that you can’t work 10 hour days and succeed in a startup news website, especially a hyperlocal one. You have to be engrained in that neighborhood, not holed up in some coffee shop posting to Facebook. Yes, the sites range in poor to great, so it makes perfect sense to get rid of the poor and make them a part of the great. Anyone who thinks they have to cover 4 municipal boards is just not thinking straight. You obviously are not skilled at knowing what your community needs and wants,you just think you know.
    As for firing underperforming sales staff….where does this not happen in business? If you’re not a local editor of one of those news sites that is doing well, someone has to wonder what the heck you do all day? The REs the RPs the AMs and list goes on of the mangament people who do very little to improve the each individual Patch site. These local editors who have strong sites….they are truly gems in this weak, pathetic industry that’s spiraling out of control. But don’t sensationalize what this really is: smart business moves and emails from whiners who want to continue sucking the life out of this company as they sip on their tea at Starbucks. Patch should just get rid of all of the sites that have not hit goals after a year, downsize and focus on those sites that hit goals and those local writer who truly know what they are doing—it’s probably going to be a Patch of 850 sites to a Patch of about 400 sites. But so be it.

  5. poor patch said:

    In my little suburb last weekend a pair of drag-racing cars careened off a country road and hit a oil pipeline, killing two people, causing a huge explosion and eventually leading to an interruption in the supply of oil to our entire region.

    For nearly two days afterward I checked the Patch site for info on this hyper local news and found only a link to the half-ass brief done by the metro paper 35 miles away, which isn’t going to send a reporter out to the burbs, which is supposed to be (?) why Patch established a site here in the first place.

    Featured prominently on the Patch site, however, was a story about where to find the best tacos in town. Because I care what a handful of 20-something local editors think about the regional taco offerings. * eye roll *

  6. Whocares? said:

    Poor Patch, and that’s exactly what happens when you hire 850 reporters. Some sites will be great. Some sites will suck. What can you do when you haven’t existed for more than 18 months? What Patch needs to do is move quicker on getting rid of those sales people and news people who cannot do this job and either kill those sites or get stronger people in place. What you explained is not what every Patch site is like, but it does explain what some are like. To take your example and make it seem like all of Patch shares in that poorness would be wrong and deceiving, yet the haters will try to make it seem like what you explain is the norm when it’s not. With that said, you’d be surprised how many people care more about where to get a good taco over two cars crashing into an oil pipeline…apparently you’re not aware of how well news orgs like TMZ and the rest of those crap Business Insider-Romenesko type gossip rags can do in today’s society. People love gossip, food, sex and rumor mongering more than they love quality news—if I was wrong then the news industry woudn’t be in the problem it is in today. People rather support rumor mongers and distasteful one-source reporting hacks like Romenesko than an organization like Pro Publica that produces quality journalism. It’s our society.

  7. swish said:

    Aw I work with Patch and I find Romenesko to be fair. Certainly never praises Patch (like anyone in the media does), but not hostile. Now Business Insider is a different story.

  8. anon said:

    Posting job openings has nothing to do with whether or not they’re hiring. Look through the PR speak. Positions in many states, including Illinois, have been open for almost a year but the company chooses to have “guest editors” who are not salaried and receive no benefits rather than hire someone full time.