Patch: Not Dead (Yet)

on Monday, Dec. 16th

David Carr of The New York Times started a wee bit of a panic at AOL subsidiary Patch over the weekend it seems. He declared Patch, the hyper-local news product that was the brainchild of current AOL chief Tim Armstrong, essentially dead.

Not so according to a memo that was leaked to Business Insider. Yet the writing is so clearly on the wall: Patch is doomed. GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram breaks it down:

As I and a number of others have argued for some time, Armstrong’s solution to this hyper-local conundrum — and the related hyper-local advertising strategy he hoped would help pay for it — was fatally flawed because it is an inherently industrialized approach to what isn’t an industrial problem. In a nutshell, hyper-local news or journalism or content of any kind isn’t something that can scale to the point where a single massive entity like AOL can apply an assembly-line solution and profit.

Part of the reason for that is economic, and related to the breakdown of the traditional advertising model, as well as the disruptive effect that digital content has had on the journalism business, both large and small. But part of it is about what makes hyper-local news work at all, and that is community.

I’ve been thinking about the relationship of local news, citizen journalism, and big-time aggregators a lot recently. There may be some role for Patch-like entities to play in an effectively crowdsourced news ecosystem, but purveyor of a “one stop shop” isn’t it.


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