Patch.com lays off hundreds of employees, doesn’t bother to tell you
Patch.com laid off 2/3 of its workforce today, including many wonderful local writers. I’d tell you who they were, but Patch didn’t see fit to even report the news of its demise on its own website. So that’s why I did it for them.
I didn’t do it to spike the football or claim victory for Decaturish. Believe me, I’m not going to benefit by having even more underemployed writers to compete with. I guess technically I’m a Patch competitor, but I also love journalism.
I did it because what Patch.com did to local journalism pisses me off to no end. I encourage every content producer in Atlanta to refuse to link back to any Patch.com websites and to stop them from aggregating your content as much as possible. I refuse to support a company that fires its writers and then tries to make money off the work of other writers without paying them.
I’ve heard rumors of Patch.com’s demise almost from the moment I arrived in Atlanta three years ago. Journalists were on the job, plugging away like nothing was wrong. One of my favorite Patch writers showed up at a city council meeting recently, even though she was supposed to be on vacation at the time. She told me she was there because the meeting was too important to miss.
There are a lot of people who are journalists for the love of the game. Patch employed many of them, people who were hopeful that Patch would devote enough resources to the product to get the profit model right. But when the going got tough, Patch.com took what it could and abandoned the communities it pretended to serve.
Local journalism isn’t easy. Bigger companies that can command higher ad rates because they have millions of monthly viewers have a natural advantage over local news websites. Local websites just can’t compete with that, and local newspapers can’t compete with websites that give out the news for free. Patch.com had a unique opportunity. It had big corporate backers, primarily AOL, and it had the resources to be creative. But Wall Street isn’t interested in creativity. Investors just want a return on investment and the value of good journalism is something that’s always been hard to quantify.
So Patch.com is all but dead. It’s just a shame that the company doesn’t have the guts to tell you that it failed.