Patch’s ‘ugly hats’ are the last straw for one editor

Letter to Romenesko

From ANONYMOUS: I’m a local editor for Patch, and I have had enough.

I can work 60 plus hours per week, have a freelance budget that’s reduced to zero and take on the responsibility of managing editor-less sites because “we just aren’t hiring right now.” I can do all this, but I cannot and will not pass out promotional items to people I am either writing about or asking to blog for my site. It feels like a bribe at worst or slightly creepy at best.

The hats

I’ve been mulling over whether to share this with you for the last few weeks, but I think someone needs to say something. It is not appropriate to ask a reporter to give gifts to sources, and it’s certainly not OK to ask a reporter to give super cheesy gifts to a source. Patch has done just that by giving all its editors red and blue hats with their states on them and Patch-branded political buttons in the last month.

The blue and red hats are terrible, and why I need a dozen of each is beyond me. I certainly don’t have a dozen delegates living in my Patch. The green Patch buttons promote Obama and Romney. They say: [insert patch town name] for Romney and [insert patch town name] for Obama. They are in the Patch font and colors, and to me it makes it look like our sites are somehow supporting one or both candidates. It just feels wrong.

Who in the marketing department thought up this abomination? Why did Patch waste all this money on political hats and buttons when I can’t get $50 approved for someone to go take pictures at a damn event on the weekend so I can have a day off? You want to know why Patch struggles to succeed? It’s because it thinks asking journalists to pass out ugly hats is a more important investment than freelance budgets and copy editors.