AOL to Delete One-Third of Patch Sites
Cost-cutting. News-gathering jobs lost. It's not just for old-school newspapers. It is about to hit AOL's hyperlocal digital news network, Patch.
Last week, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong caused a bit of a stir in the business world of journalism, whether digital or print, citizen or professional, when he said that about 500 jobs would be cut and that local Patch news sites which were not profitable would be closed or merged with other local websites, according to media reports. That means about one-third of the approximately 900 Patch sites across the U.S. would be affected. Specific job cuts by AOL have not yet been announced.
AOL stated at the beginning of 2013 that it expected its Patch network to be profitable by the end of the year.
For Georgetown and surrounding neighborhoods, some good news: Georgetown Patch -- which launched Sept. 8, 2010 -- appears safe from any chopping block, although this has not been confirmed. It is the only Patch site in the District of Columbia. Edited by Shaun Courtney, GeorgetownPatch.com is a lively and up-to-the-minute mix of breaking news, news you can, calendar events and community commentary.
Armstrong also caused another stir Aug. 9 when during a conference call to Patch employees he abruptly fired Patch creative director Abel Lenz for taking a photo of him as he was speaking, according to the media blog, JimRomenesko.com.
A former Google employee, Armstrong co-founded the hyperlocal Patch in 2007. He sold it to AOL for $7 million in 2009, when he became head of AOL.
Reporting on the belt-tightening announcement, the New York Post wrote, in part: "In some towns, Patch sites have become quite popular as go-to destinations for political, youth-sports and local news. In others, the small staff and infrequent updates rendered the sites seldom-visited cyber ghost-towns. … By some estimates, AOL has spent more than $300 million on Patch since 2009, and it has yet to turn a profit."
There are 45 Patch sites in Maryland and 30 in Virginia. The Georgetowner tried to contact Georgetown Patch for comment but did not receive a response by press time.