AOL’s Patch.com initiative is no longer just a handful of local sites in the Greater New York 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 confirmed the launch of the 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 more than 500 journalists.
Patch, which AOL purchased last year, is a passion project of CEO Tim Armstrong (who was an original seed investor and is pictured above). 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 2009.
A local editor, who employs multiple freelancers, runs each site. Coverage tends to be comprised of old-school, traditional reporting, focusing on local government, schools, youth sports and the like. Plus, each site serves as a forum for community members to share photos, event information and their opinions on local news.
To date, Patch sites are operating in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia.
States poised to receive the Patch treatment by the end of the year include Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan, among others.