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Patch to cut back, tweak focus; lots of ‘Best Ofs’*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

imageMedia blogger Jim Romenesko cites a “Patch insider” as saying the collective of hyperlocal news sites that are part of the AOL/Huffington Post combine plans to pare staff and freelance budgets and start producing “easy, quick-hitting, cookie-cutter copy.” Excerpt:

The editorial emphasis is now on “easy, quick-hitting, cookie-cutter copy,” including mandatory “Best Of” features (i.e., best coffee shop, best burgers, etc.) that compel businesses and readers to visit and participate in the Patch directories. (Each Patch has a directory of local businesses, organizations, churches, etc.)

“We’re going so far, in many of our Patches, to host ‘Pizza Playoffs’ — a tournament-style bracket that pits all the pizza parlors in town into showdowns to attract the most comments and star-ratings. Features like this could go on for weeks at a time, and when one ends, another will begin.”

Every Patch is adopting other, similar features. One example: “What’s happening with this vacant storefront?” — a photo-driven feature that asks readers for comments about what they’d like to see in the space.

Add: The unnamed insider’s take: “My guess is this is a way for Patch leadership to enact layoffs without saying it’s laying anyone off — it’s merely ridding itself of employees who ‘aren’t working out’ — while also showing AOL’s board it can shave a lot of overhead while building toward profitability.”

[+] Patch folks respond.


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