Dec 28, 2010

LA Weekly finds unremarkable Patch journalism remarkable

It should not be surprising that the Echo Park Patch did a solid story about a Christmas Day murder in Echo Park; the kind of thing many good cops reporters would do following a holiday shooting on their beat.

But the LA Weekly was surprised anyway because it had such low expectations. Here's part of the Weekly's blog post:
Here's one thing AOL Patch could be great for, and certainly was in Echo Park this Christmas: documenting the countless gang-related murders that fly under the radar of mainstream media while the homicides of white-collar (and just plain white) victims like celebrity publicist Ronni Chasen get all the airtime. We're often guilty of the same.


Here's to you, WalMart of news, for a job well done. And on Christmas Day, no less.
First, why resurrect the wrongheaded "WalMart of news" name calling? AOL has planted Patch sites mostly in smaller, leafy communities that are either affluent or rapidly gentrifying. These are not the places WalMarts generally locate. WalMarts are hub stores that serve their sameness on a regional level, as many newspaper chains do.

(The Weekly does repeat a righteous criticism of AOL for its failure to launch Patch in poor communities - the ones that often need watchdogs the most.)

Second, newspapers sometimes have policies against publishing front-page stories about gang murders. The soundness of these policies is debatable (especially in the era of local blogs), but it's not always a matter of oversight.

Third, why treat Patch as if it were a loopy grandmother who miraculously remembered your name? The sites shouldn't be graded on a curve.

The point here is that local news matters to local readers and Patch, for all its faults, is filling a void left by consolidations at the Weekly, the LA Times, LANG and Freedom. Some sites in the Patch network will do a good job, some won't. The cheap model AOL has used almost guarantees patchy quality. Nevertheless, Patch editors earn more than most LANG reporters and all unemployed former Weekly and Times reporters, so there is a talent pool to tap into.

Also, we should not forget that another website, The Eastsider LA, written by former LA Times reporter Jesus Sanchez, has been keeping an eye on Echo Park and surrounding neighborhoods since 2008.


Anonymous said...

> why treat Patch as if it were a loopy grandmother who miraculously remembered your name?

If it ACTS like my loopy grandmother, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be considered that way.

I will say that the Redmond Carolipio article on the Echo Park murder was good. If you could clone more of him, that might solve The Patch Problem. But overall, it is just not cutting the mustard.

This whole stringer mentality, piece-work journalism tactic is going to snap AOL back in the kisser.

You cannot run a real news organization on pie-in-the-sky and if-wishes-were-fishes-philosophies.

Patch is feeling an initial surge because it has become the retaliatory employment choice for journalists fed up with organizations like MNG.

But AOL will drop these hopeful souls like a cold sack of mush after their bean-counters can't realize a decent profit for their shareholders. Same as Singleton.

Same sack of sh*t, different day. And even less reliable.

Anonymous said...

Our local Patch is pathetic. Inteviews with very forgetable people; stupid questions and answers with the answers provided largely by themselves; horrible recipes. We have holidy fireworks in our city and the coverage of them did not include any fireworks pictures - actually people mostly waiting for the fireworks. The actual fireworks coverage came much later in the form of a video.

Anonymous said...

The Weekly sucks hard and so does Patch. Pretty simple, really.