Patch ax and finding our own news



You probably haven’t noticed but we’ve had quite a few different Patch writers over the years. Turnover was common. The working conditions were notorious, with editors having to cover multiple towns just to piece together a living. Can’t imagine the writers did much better.

Patch made quite a stir in the media market when it came online in 2007.  Patch Media was promptly bought up by media giant AOL (yes, AOL still exists. No, “AOL” does not mean “The Internet”). Some say AOL ran Patch into the ground. Patch did seem to suffer from overspending and erratic leadership. There was a famous incident last year when a Patch CEO fired a photographer on a very public conference call (The photographer’s offense? Taking pictures!).

Some bloggers are reporting that 2/3rds of the Patch staff are getting pink slips. The new ridiculous-majority stakeholders, Hale Global (AOL still owns a piece), seem to be on a tear to get Patch’s rumored $100 million in yearly spending down to at least match the supposed $40 million in profits. Seems logical. But the long arm of Hale’s ruthless budget cuts have hit us here at home.

Sam Strike, our local Patch reporter, posted this on the Haverford-Havertown Patch Facebook page on January 29:

I have worked at Patch for almost three years. This morning I was told that it would be my last day. Working here has definitely been an adventure. And I do not regret joining this start-up company – it has been a great learning experience.

 I want to thank everyone who has read the Patch or contributed to the Patch over the years. I have met so many interesting people and I have enjoyed the work.

 I do not know the details of the plan going forward, so I’m afraid I can’t answer any questions about the site’s future.

 If you want to contact me in the future you can email me at

 Thanks everyone!!


As of this writing, Ms. Strike couldn’t be reached for further comment. We wish her the best.


The question in local journalism circles: What will replace the Patch if it goes under? So far, the newspaper ad model isn’t working for online local news outlets. Major innovation is needed to save the hyperlocal journalism space. But what will that revenue model be? The subscription idea is dead for now; people don’t want to subscribe to news sites. Perhaps in time they will, but for now subscriptions are as problematic as ad revenue. Neither one is reliable, and both together are increasingly starting to piss people off. If we pay for a sub, we expect ad-free media. Think satellite and online radio stations, Netflix, etc.


If Patch does in fact go down, we can look toward other sites to deliver its elements piecemeal:

  • We can look back to The News of Delaware County for news reports on big local events like Commissioners votes, major fires, etc.
  • Community announcements like Library events, etc., can be found on local blogs like this one (Havertownies, if you forgot what/where you’re reading).
  • Yardsale/classified ads can be found in Nextdoor communities or perhaps on Craigslist. (We just started a Nextdoor community for part of the Llanerch section of town. Here’s a referral link if you want to start your own). Facebook groups like Main Line Yard Sale are starting to gain some ground, too
  • Angie’s List, although subscription (and quite an expensive one at that), hold recommendations/referrals for those times your friends don’t want to hand over their secret stash of plumbers, piano tuners, and pool boys.
  • A newspaper advertising circular called Hibü is showing up on our doorsteps lately. Based in King of Prussia, Hibu produces a multiple-page flyer-type magazine with a few lifestyle articles peppered amongst its pages of adverts. Hibü is a directory service mostly. It is run by Yellowbook USA, which was known as The Yellow Pages. (One of our Llanerch neighbors works at Hibü, actually).

None of these are exactly Patch competitors. Patch competed more with The News of Delaware County and other hyperlocal papers for advertising dollars. But if we’re going to break down the functions of Patch piecemeal, then we need to think about what Patch set out to do in the Haverford Township arena. Measuring Patch’s true impact isn’t a quantifiable endeavor. It seemed like most readers caught a Patch article or two on Facebook and paid zero attention to the ads. These aren’t the readership habits that can support a newspaper, obviously.


The true innovation will be that neighbors will themselves take up the slack. As we realize we can’t rely on the old standards of communication, we will use new online tools to stay in touch with each other and other nearby residents (like Nextdoor. It’s free. Make yours here). We won’t have local yocal news reporters to catch us up on Commissioner votes. Some citizens will have to go and post to this blog or others. We won’t have the same gossip lines as we used to, as the culture changes and more families have two working parents in the home. That’s when Facebook and other social networks come into play. If we want to stay informed, we will have to depend on each other. Thankfully, the Internet facilitates this.

Did you read the Patch regularly? Let us know over at our Facebook post.



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