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Has Patch Hit A Rough Patch?

| February 06, 2012, 05:17 PM | 5 Comments

Patch logo from AOLUPDATE: According to the Broadneck Patch, the position of Local Editor was filled shortly after publication of this column.

As any reader of Eye On Annapolis knows, we really enjoy the hyper local Patch websites. While we can cover a larger area and can’t be at all places all the time, the local Patch editor can.  But now it seems that things may have changed a bit.

Patch has not been without controversy. As a larger entity, it is losing money. Traffic is trending flat. Advertising effectiveness has been questioned.  Its leadership has been questioned, and the viability suspect.  Even a local blog, Annapolis Chatter, has questioned how local they really are being headquartered in New York. But we like them, we really do. But there have been some significant changes in the local Patches in the area.

A year ago, there were ten Patches in Anne Arundel County. Today there are only 8. A year ago, there were ten local editors running the ten local Patches and today there are only 5 editors, a handful of fill-ins and a regional editor picking up the slack.

  • Historic Annapolis Patch lost their editor, Mary McGuirt in December and that Patch has been consolidated into the Greater Annapolis Patch edited by John Wilfong.
  • Edgewater-Davidsonville Patch lost their editor, Mitchelle Stephenson, in January and that Patch is now being handled by Jonathan Moynihan, who is the former editor of the Severn Patch which was consolidated into the Odenton Patch. Moynihan is in the process of moving into the local community–local residency was (at one point) a requirement for Patch.
  • The Broadneck Patch lost their editor, Laura Tayman, in September and the site is currently being handled by a guest editor.
  • Cory Galliher, was the editor of the Pasadena Patch and he left in December. That site is still being managed by a guest editor.
  • Nicki Mayo, the editor of the Crofton Patch left a few weeks ago and an editor has not been named to replace her.
  • The Regional Manager, Stephanie Burke, oversaw all Anne Arundel sites as well as other counties, resigned in December and has been replaced with a new Regional Manager who has been forced to deal with the recent rash of departures. Four Anne Arundel County editors and one Prince George’s County editor have left Patch since Burke resigned. The Patches without an editor are being handled by Susan Jenkins, Regional Editor and former editor for Greater Annapolis Patch.

Right now, the only original editors from a year ago are Severn Patch (Tim Lemke), Severna Park Patch (Leslie Hunt), Glen Burnie Patch (Maya T. Prabhu), and Edgewater-Davidsonville (Jonathan Moynihan, however, he moved due to a consolidation).

One of the beauties of the Patch model was the hyper local reporting. To borrow a Fox News term, the local editors were “embedded” in the local communities and truly made a difference in the hyper-local reporting. These editors/reporters are not from some “other” media. They are neighbors and friends. They are concerned about the same issues that concern their neighborhoods–the pothole strewn road, the ongoing construction, the increase in crime, the local high school and recreational sports, the local community members who have received awards, the new principal in the elementary school,  and much more.

Will Patch survive? Time will tell. I know that the Patches and Eye On Annapolis share many readers. Care to chime in with a comment on your thoughts?



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Category: OPINION

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with

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  1. Nicole says:

    I think Patch is drying up. They were great right out of the gate with new sites popping up all over the place and with local contributing writers out and about covering the local happenings and really publicizing it. But once Patch’s parent company, AOL, merged with Huffington Post (I believe AOL bought Huffington Post), it’s been on a downhill slide ever since. Patch, it seems, adopted the Huffington Post business model of reducing the staff of contributing writers and trying to boost the staff of local bloggers (a tradeoff way of getting content for free in hopes that the blogger has some way of monetizing through exposure) as a way to fill the sites with local content. I think AOL failed to realize that only a fraction of bloggers can sustain themselves this way and Patch suffered by way of the “you get what you pay for” addage and hardly enough content to keep pace with Patch’s requirement for new daily content on each of their sites. The Editors paid the ultimate price, however, by having to make up for the lack of new daily content as bloggers certainly were able to keep pace (at least not at the price they were being paid), stretching themselves so thin that burnout and turnover rates have excelerated exponentially. I would expect more sites to merge with nearby sites or disappear altogether. I believe it was on the right track initially, but with the non-existent budget, the failure to launch an all out sales-oriented blitz to actually turn a buck, and the Editors being required to do the work of 10 people, it’s not surprising to see these sites disappear. It’s a shame because I believe it was something smaller towns craved and actually enjoyed.

  2. Great piece John. And Nicole, you are spot on with your assessment. I’m the former Edgewater Patch editor, and you have hit the nail on the head in terms of change in philosophy, burnout, etc.

    What’s really horrible is that I loved the job. Really liked the job. I was sad and regretted leaving, but I had to go. It is just unsustainable to work that hard.

    For anyone interested, I have a new site, come check it out,

  3. laura says:

    You could merge and be the Eye Patch….

  4. John Frenaye says:

    LOL. Hey, if Tim Armstrong is looking to toss around some of that AOL money, I am all ears!

  5. What about all eyes?

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