AOL Makes ‘Patch’ Push

AOL’s Patch initiative is no longer just a handful of pet project–style local sites in the tri-state area. In fact, the company is planning a massive expansion of its fledgling local journalism project by the end of this year.

Officials at AOL have just announced the launch of their 100th Patch site, in Morristown, N.J. And by the end of 2010, AOL expects to operate 500 Patch sites in 20 states and to hire over 500 journalists.

Patch, which AOL purchased last year, is a passion project of CEO Tim Armstrong (who was an original seed investor). The project, an effort to roll out hyper-local news sites—particularly in areas where newspapers have struggled or have been abandoned, kicked off with three local Patch sites in February of 2009.

Each Patch site is run by a local editor, who employs multiple freelancers. These sites’ coverage tends to be comprised of old school, traditional local reporting—focusing on local government issues, schools, youth sports and the like. Plus, each serves a forum for local community members to share photos, local event information and their opinions on local news.

To date, Patch sites are operating California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia.

Among the states poised to receive the Patch treatment by the end of the year include Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan, among others.