Dec 28, 2010

Another black eye for Patch

A stringer for AOL's Patch site in Palo Alto got caught poaching a business report from the website VentureBeat. The Palo Alto Patch acknowledged what had happened in an apology to readers.

Patch sites in West Hollywood and New Rochelle, New York have run into problems with stolen content as well, as FishbowlLA has reported.

The Patch network is largely decentralized, with individual editors running city sites under a regional editor. The model calls for the local editors (some of whom having journalism training, some of whom don't) to hire stringers (some of whom have journalism training, some of whom don't) to help produce content and keep the web pages filled. It's a system that invites people to cut corners.

As I just argued in the post below, Patch sites should not be graded on a curve - no excuses for plagiarism, no pats on the back for doing what they promised to do. But it only takes a few rotten apples to spoil the barrel. So AOL better get its shit together - it owes it to the Patch writers and editors who are doing a good job.

(found via FishbowlLA)


Anonymous said...

I disagree. Patch sites should absolutely be graded on a curve.

There is no excuse for plagiarism and such and I'm not here to defend that nonsense.

However, Patch has only been around a few months and it's competing against and routinely beating local newspapers that have been established for a century or more.

Your expectation that Patch should be a top tier news operation right out of the box is unreasonable.

That so many of the sites are up, running, employing journalists and reporting news that would otherwise be ignored is worth acknowledgment, praise and support.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see a Patch site worth a tenth of the average MNG product, content-wise, and that's a pretty low bar.

You can't run a newspaper on stringers.

Good luck fellas, you'll need it.

Gary Scott said...

Praise and encouragement are one thing, evaluation is another. Also, when did I saw Patch should be top tier right out of the box? I simply said it should be graded on a curve. That doesn't mean I have unreasonable expectations.

newsjunkie said...

what's with all the hating on patch? seriously. it's actually a great model and the people working for it need to be given a chance. it's brand new. time will tell but at least give them a chance before picking. you can pick up a LANG paper on any given day and there are gross factual errors or typos. and they have had years of experience. patch has already covered a couple of stories that LANG papers have not. LANG doesn't do any good reporting anymore. no everyone is furloughing and losing vacation. my guess is something is in the works. history has proven that MNG doesn't just makes these sorts of moves without ulterior motives. Hence, one's not in the benefit of the employee.

pasadenapio said...

A writer or editor creating original work for the love of the craft should be a no-brainer. Sadly it's not. There's serious credibility at stake here.

Anonymous said...

Even at their height of popularity most newspapers were not subscribed to from the majority of the population. You can credit this due to a number of reasons. No time to read, cost, lack of desire, education etc. So, the model didn't please all. Neither will Patch.

Anonymous said...

The Patch model is not a good model and will fail. It will be impossible to find sufficient revenue to support it and there will not be sufficient oversight to keep things like this from happening. A successful local product requires a great deal of time to reach critical mass, and until that time the business has to be run by those who simply love doing it -- they won't make any money. AOL is just another corporation that won't wait that long or find enough passionate people who will do the work for next to nothing.

Anonymous said...

it may not be a good model, we'll have to wait and see. lang doesn't appear to be a good model either, does it?

Anonymous said...

It's not even that Patch isn't top tier out of the box, it's the just the fact that it is structured as the newest Digital Sweatshop. But ...

Maybe I'm totally wrong. So please set me straight: I 'd like to hear this from someone working right in the thick of it. No second hand stuff.

What is the local editorial structure? One editor per city? Any regional editors above them?

What is the beginning salary for editors? Benefits?

What are the rates that Patch editors pay stringers per assignment?

Maybe this is a better system than I think.

Anonymous said...

why would you care other than being curious? what people earn, their structure and benefits are of no consequence. if they want to work there for whatever salary and benefits is their decision.

comparing benefits etc to a structure that you might think correct is one of the reasons newspapers are in the mess they are in...they didn't evolve fast enough to survive.

Anonymous said...

4:40: It makes perfect sense from a labor viewpoint to inquire about what wages Patch pays its editors and its stringers.

My concern here isn't the quality of the Patch product which is variable, but what kind of employer they are.

My info is that Patch is, as I said, a "Digital Sweatshop". Just another plantation and maybe a worse plantation than the one they're currently working for.

If people want to bail from one news group to the other, they should know what they're in for well ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

5:20, really no disagreement with your views.

One would think that people making a change have done a little homework between who they currently work for and the benefit of making a change to another.

The grass may always look greener and it may be, however, the track record of some of these newspaper groups are less than honest.

Patch may be of the same ilk.

Until you weigh the opportunities and then make a move is the only time that you will really know if the decision is correct.