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Patch Cuts Back while other Hyperlocal Sites are Trying to cash in

AOL’s Patch Network, a national brand that delivers news through area based freelance writers, are making drastic cut backs to turn over profits. In an effort to make up for loosing $40 million in the first quarter, the site’s President Warren Webster, said that making these cuts was always in the sites plan but will now be implemented.

Hyperlocal sites, focuses on community specific and local news happening in these areas. AOL’s Patch, covers over 800 million sites in 18 states focusing on professional reporting in local cities and towns. But this freelance and carefree approach that has worked for Patch thus far, has fallen under hard times. More than 800 editors were told that their budgets would be drastically reduced. As budgets are being cut, freelance assignments have diminished and readers are complaining that local content can now be found on major sites, taking away from the ultra-local focus.

In an article by Street Fight Mag, Mike Fourcher, claims that the Patch Network is “a national brand” and he doesn’t see why they “would be interested in a geographic premium.” Especially when “they advertise in the LA Times” said Fourcher.

This is when the real discussion begins– how does removing area specific freelance writers add to the “ultra-local” feel of the Patch and where do other hyperlocal sites fit in order to cash in?

In the article, it outlines that 15 of Chicago’s successful independent publishers are joining forces to launch a citywide ad network, targeting the city’s most influential citizens.

Therefore by keeping who they advertise and aim their news towards, helps keep the locality of these publishers and encourages more independent news.

In other words, this new venture called the Chicago Independent Advertising Network, will try to advertise to local businesses and introduce new products and services in the Chicago area.

By doing so, these local publishers and advertisers will be going after the local dollar and could pose a threat to hyperlocal leaders like the Patch.

I think it’s a great idea to have the “underdog” in this situation taking a big leap at going for the big bucks. With Patch consumers worried about their news becoming more national and possibly out ruling the feel of a local site, the Chicago Independent Advertising Network is looking to keep local money and news fluctuating throughout the city. Basically a huge network that wants to keep local money…well local.



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