Local news powered by Patch: the state of local news aggregation in 2011

Two years ago, the state of the art in local news aggregation was outside.in. That site aggregated postings about a specific geographical area and offered up a web based user interface to republish those links on your web site. Outside.in did not have its own staff of reporters, and its automated systems for newsgathering were (to be charitable) fallible, and thus it sometimes threw up junk of various kinds which was unpleasant to wade through.

Fast forward to today, or more specifically March 2011, where AOL's Patch buys outside.in, a deal reported by Techcrunch to be worth south of $10 million. 

Patch's world model is of a world full of part time news gatherers publishing local news about locations which are small towns. In the local area, there's a Dexter Patch, a Saline/Milan Patch, a Plymouth Patch but no Ann Arbor Patch and no Ypsilanti Patch.  How do you get full-scope news coverage for every zip code, then? By reworking your outside.in feed structure as "Local news powered by Patch", and suddenly you can push links out to a network of systems that are happy to put local news on the local weather page and don't much care about the details except that there needs to be a plausible result for every single zip code.


2 thoughts on “Local news powered by Patch: the state of local news aggregation in 2011

  1. Stefanie A Murray

    Ed, what do you think about Patch’s move to recruit scores of neighborhood-level unpaid bloggers? You and I spent the better part of the last two years working with unpaid local bloggers. I’m curious to hear what you think about the strategy on Patch’s scale.
    I’m curious to know what the trade-off will be for the local bloggers, as site traffic to many of the Patch sites is very low, and want to learn more about their workflow and CMS.
    Long-term, much of Patch’s success will be based around whether or not it will be able to sell advertising in such small markets. Do you think it will?

  2. Edward Vielmetti

    Stefanie – there’s some set of people who are willing to try out anything new and see if it’s for them; that’s probably enough to get them started filling out their roster. The promise of eventually getting paid is enough, sometimes.
    I’ve talked to people who got very disillusioned by Examiner.com and their ever-declining pay scale, to the point where I start to think that Patch could fill quite a bit of its ranks just by giving the writer a better user experience and content management system than Examiner has.


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