I hate to say it, but if Patch keeps doing what it is the US newspaper market is going to be in even worse shape than we techies thought possible.
Patch is AOL’s play to create a US-wide group of local news blogs about smaller communities that have some level of affluence.
National papers will be almost completely unaffected by the trend, but your daily local rag is on the way out. Want to see just how serious Patch is about taking over local news? A quick look at its job postings shows that it wants to blanket the nation.
To put this in perspective, I grew up in a town of 50,000 people, which is the exact market size Patch is shooting for. Our local paper was half joke and half disgrace, but it was printed every day. Patch is going to effectively replace it with a single person. Market economics are on side of Patch, and they don’t even have to fight a quality war – local papers are usually poorly written and bland.
Assuming that AOL continues its plans to reach 500 markets this year, continues being the largest hirer of journalists, and continues its expansion in the more than a dozen states in which it already operates, local papers are finished. They cannot compete with the low-cost, hyper-local focus that Patch can bring.
Also, Patch is hiring better people than your average local paper. How can you tell? They are looking for people who are “entrepreneurial online journalist[s],” exactly the types of people they need to grow the brand. They are not trying to hire regular journos just to fill space, they want people who can innovate and run their own publication. In the same way that every blogger is a entreprenurial writer, Patch is making the choice to hire the exact people that US newspapers can’t compete against: driven innovators.
Patch is on the warpath, expect it to win.