Here’s what some Patch employees told me in those emails:
PATCH STAFFER #1
“I saw your piece today ‘Patch puts pressure on local editors’ and a lot of what was said is true,” writes one editor.
Patch wants local editors (LE) to run as many as seven articles on weekdays and three or four on weekends, he says.
“Another thing that has upset LEs is that some Patch sites are running advertorials. The editors have brought up the ethics of running paid content and management does not seem to care much as long as money is coming in. The other problem is that the readers have noticed and aren’t pleased.”
PATCH STAFFER #2
“In addition to all the mandates (which are correct #s by the way), we also have to plan our own marketing events. In some areas that means bringing fishbowls around to local restaurants and practically begging them to display them as a business card raffle. We take the business cards and input everyone into our newsletter system to inflate our subscriber numbers.
“Patch likes to brag about how it hired a ton of people away from traditional newspapers but at this point all of those people are long gone. Not much has been reported on this but in the past few months there has been a mass exodus from Patch countrywide. Some people are leaving without having another plan in place because they’re so disgusted. …The only people left who work for Patch are mostly straight out of college kids who don’t know better.”
PATCH STAFFER #3
“As to the issue of postings, it may be worthwhile to point out that a ‘posting’ in Patchland does not mean that writers are compiling five to seven 15-inch articles.
“Yes, we now have to post five to seven items a day, but each post can be a photo of the day/gallery, or a brief, or a poll. I strategize by having one major feature a day that is well researched and could have run as a full on 15-inch story in a *community* newspaper, with the rest being a combination of photos, briefs, etc. Worthwhile to say, community paper, not major metro daily. So it may be really soft news like an interview with a teacher who won a national award etc.”
PATCH STAFFER #4
This editor says he hasn’t heard mandates about Facebook “Likes” or 1,000 comments a month.
As for the number of posts, he says, the goal is two original stories per day by each local editor, supplemented by three other posts — regional stories, aggregation items, etc.
Patch headquarters “is definitely stepping up its demands, usually on rushed schedules,” he says. Headquarters recently told local editors to quickly produce 25 “Readers’ Choice” stories — nominations for best local pizza joints, bartenders and other categories. There’s also a big push for November election stories to start rolling out.