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« Home entertainment | Main | Farewell blue Sunday »

Jan 27, 2011

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Roch101

I'd be interested to hear what this blog's author thinks on this one.

Ed Cone

I have not been impressed by the content I've seen on Patch.

Maybe improved quality will bring an audience, and then advertisers, but I'm not convinced that old revenue model can be reassembled in the age of FB, Groupon, Google, Craigslist, et al.

And improving quality won't be cheap -- all that money is buying thinly-staffed operations in a lot of places, I don't see how that scales effectively.

I do have some ideas on improving quality for local online publications, but Patch can pay me for those if interested.

Account Deleted

I made it through three levels of interviews for a Patch launch near Atlanta in October. I lost out in the final round to journalists from the area who were jumping on board. I had some of the same concerns raised in the article about sustainability, so I was not real upset at losing out on the gig.

But in the process examining the company, I was struck by a few things:

1. The cookie-cutter aspect of each site. When they all look the same, I think it dilutes the brand and makes it lack freshness.

2. The journalism seemed to be fluffy. That means I thought they had good people spread too thin and the end result was a lot of puff and not much of substance. Being a hard news guy, I've discovered that the smaller markets and the weeklies in many areas have little concept of the watch dog role. The alt-weeklies do most of the heavy lifting, along with the remaining relevant dailies.

3. The emphasis was on volume of new content and I knew from the start that was not good because ...

4. To launch a site, the local editor has to do about one months of advertorial work ... cataloging local businesses and writing a profile on each one to generate launch content.

So my final view of the Patch effort was much like what I heard a News and Observer manager say at a conference at UNC back in 2006: the zoned editions of major media outlets serve as nothing more than a content delivery system for the advertising and direct mail pieces within the newspaper.

Taylor Wray

It seems like Patch is on the more journalistic end of an emerging low-quality, demand-driven spectrum running the gamut from traditional journalism to straight-out commercial/marketing pieces. The writers for these sites get paid a relative pittance, and their work reflects it, but they're targeting very small, niche audiences interested in very specific topics, so the competition is minimal and at least a certain level of viewership is virtually guaranteed.

One similar network of sites and articles that is more commercial and less journalistic is Demand, which is responsible for a lot of the how-to videos and articles that one comes across on the Web. Check out this critical article about Demand on CJR from one of its writers, as well as my blog, "The Daily Taylor," for more about this apparently lucrative, somewhat-worrying trend: http://www.cjr.org/feature/in_demand.php?page=1.

Roch101

Great blog, Taylor!

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