Patch ignored j-prof’s advice

Quinnipiac University journalism professor Rich Hanley participated in a secret “beta test” of Patch to determine whether one full-time journalist could provide all the content necessary to make a hyperlocal website about the community viable. The answer he gave was no, which Patch didn’t want to hear. “Hanley said that their test in Hamden, CT found the town to be too diverse, too complicated, too time-consuming for one person to handle,” writes Matt DeRienzo.

* Patch ignored advice about one-journalist-per-town model



  1. Hey Jim,

    I’m the guy who got in trouble for the ‘Dumb Fuckers’ headline earlier in the year as well as the ‘Journalism is fucked’ article that appeared on the Phoenix’s website earlier this week. I also hail from Hamden, CT originally and I can attest to the fact that the town — which is actually large enough to be considered a city — is very diverse, ranging from rural areas to downright urban areas, with all classes and backgrounds represented. It’s a great place to live, but unfortunately there’s hardly any news source for news in the town other than what the New Haven Register or New Haven Independent publish. We used to have a local independent paper, but that eventually got bought out and conformed into a county weekly. Another great blog was started last decade named the Hamden Daily News which provided great coverage, although funds made it too hard for it to last. That’s where I got my start. Anyways, love your site and thanks for the coverage on both the Suffolk Journal’s viral mess as well as the article I wrote earlier this week! Appreciate everything you’ve done for the industry!

  2. Jim said:

    Thanks, Ethan.

  3. anon said:

    Maybe Patch chose such a tough town as an experiment? If Patch could make it there, Patch could make it anywhere.

    I am from the town north of Hamden and I know just what Ethan is talking about. Hamden has a population of 60,000 of enormous diversity, and is large geographically, too. With an endless news cycle, it’s hard to imagine any one person doing a good job covering Hamden. Maybe a different town, but not Hamden.

  4. Erik said:

    Patch is here to stay. Some markets are pulling in 6 digits a month. Most newspapers don’t have a patch strategy. Patch is going to go out of business is not a strategy. Someone will probably buy them probably A. Huffington. They are still kicking a number of newspapers butts in some markets. Hope the strategy I implemented in Connecticut is still in place.

  5. News Chief said:

    Erik, I’m very familiar with Patch since I work there as an editor. After the first month it became clear to many of us that one editor can’t do it all and we’re talking giving good, old fashion news reporting that the readers and biz owners want.

    Of course, having a freelance budget helped a lot with that but now we don’t even have that. The problem with Patch is it doesn’t know what it is.

    First it thought it was a news website, which was fine. Then it thought it was a social media site where they hoped that they could get moms clicking the ads by making editors run cheap fluff stuff. When they didn’t work, we had blogs which are a hit or a miss.

    I hope Patch is here to stay, but after being in the news biz for a long time and after talking to my fellow journalists both in and out of Patch, I know that business owners and readers don’t want blogs or aggregated news stories that are linked to our competitors. Heck, even the sales managers know this and have complained.

    Patch needs to think of itself as a news website and help the overworked editors who are putting in between 60 to 80 hours a week.

    And before anyone makes the typical snide remark, “If you don’t like it why don’t you quit?” the problem with that for most of us is that we are looking for work at traditional news orgs but no one is hiring yet. It’s tough to pay the bills without a pay check. But it’s also tough to work at a place that you know probably won’t be around after the presidential elections.

    Also, many of Patch’s HQ’s are business types who have never reported a story in their life. They have no idea what it’s like to be in charge of a news website and really care about the quality but to have some accountant come up with cheap bait clicks like Best of polls (that don’t work by the way b/c people can vote more than once). A lot of us do care about Patch and are hoping that one day it would go back to its former glory of a news website but we know it won’t happen.

  6. Dan Mitchell said:

    Whence comes this notion that every Patch site must cover a town comprehensively, like a daily newspaper? Does AOL promise this explicitly?

  7. News Chief said:

    Dan when many of us were first hired we were told that Patch would be like an online daily newspaper.

    And the more real stories you have, the more readers would come to a Patch website.

    But even when Patch allowed editors to have a big freelance budget and could control it as we saw fit, we were still limited in our coverage. Freelancers can’t cover court cases or meetings because they have their own full time jobs.

  8. FYI said:

    Patch has officially stopped calling itself an online newspaper.