Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Area Man Runs Web Newspaper: AOL Promises 500 Patches by the End of 2010

Every big Web publisher, and lots of small ones, too, have tried to figure out how to crack the market for local Web ads. No one’s figured it out yet.

But AOL feels good enough about Patch, its take on local, to boast about its performance. Tim Armstrong’s company is announcing that it has opened up 100 Patch outposts–digital versions of community newspapers, each staffed by a sole full-time editor and aided by a group of freelancers.

That’s up from 44 at the end of the first quarter, and the company plans to have 500 up and running by the end of the year. And that allows AOL to boast that it is hiring more journalists than anyone else on the planet this year.


But AOL (AOL) had already announced internally that it would build “hundreds” of Patch outposts this year. And it has already told shareholders that it would spend up to $50 million expanding Patch in 2010. (Armstrong invested in the company when he was still running sales at Google (GOOG), then snapped it up after taking the reins at AOL last year).

So there’s not a lot of real news here. And given that AOL won’t offer specific performance metrics–traffic, ad sales, etc.–about Patch, it’s hard to assess how it’s really doing.

Still, for the record, AOL says Patch is doing great–and not to worry about gripes that its journalists are working very long hours for not much pay.

Noted! Here’s my chat with Patch Media president Warren Webster, who founded the company in 2007. What’s with the creepy critter perched above his shoulder? No idea.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald