Patch’s Hyper-Urgent Deadline: Q4, 2013

Hindsight is admittedly 20/20. But looking back on the evolution of AOL’s Patch, it’s hard not to wonder where the network might be today if the original focus had been on rolling out around 80 nationwide hubs rather than shooting for a ridiculous, illogical 2010 year-end target of 800+.

The fallout from that misguided tactic remains clear and present across the hyper-local news network to this day. It also framed a May 8 earnings conference call with AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong. As reported by deputy editor Steven Jacobs, Patch is going to take “all means possible” and consider “other revenue products” to make the operation profitable by the fourth quarter of 2013.

As is now standard for any such Patch-related news article, the reader comments include a smattering from former company employees that paint a hyper-dreadful picture. Here in SoCal, the rollout of the new Patch beta site design is just about to start. This morning for example, San Juan Capistrano Patch let readers know the new look will be turned on there next week.

Like so many Patch sites, San Juan Capistrano is run by a solid journalist. Local editor Penny Arévalo is a former Daily Bruin editor-in-chief who, upon graduation, started out with LA’s The Daily Journal. From her Patch bio:

Not long after having my first child, I started freelancing. Journalism is a great career to work around motherhood. I freelanced for the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, BabyTalk magazine, San Diego magazine, various Daily Journal publications and Corporate Legal Times.

I started freelancing for Patch before we launched the San Juan Capistrano Patch site, and my beat has consistently been covering Capistrano Unified School District, which has kept me pretty busy. As recently as November 2011, I was a regular contributor to legal websites owned by Lexis-Nexis, including consumer-friendly

For the sake of Arévalo and her counterparts in the OC, Greater LA and elsewhere, FishbowlLA hopes Patch comes through the revamp stronger and healthier. A Patch spokesperson tells FishbowlLA there will be several other California Patch sites getting the new look next week, but that the list is still being finalized. They add: “This is still a beta. We are testing and learning in certain areas, we’ll have a lot more to say soon.”