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.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.
Here's to you, WalMart of news, for a job well done. And on Christmas Day, no less.
(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.