James Rainey: No Longer For J-Schoolers, Patch is Picking Up Seasoned Pros

Over the weekend, the LA Times‘ James Rainey profiled LA’s ever expanding Patch network. He especially focused in on Patch’s newfound ability to recruit experienced journos, like former LA Times reporter Nancy Wride at the Belmont Shore Patch.

Rainey’s take:

The news pros are bringing writing chops and a touch of savvy to the fledgling news operation, which has been better known as the first employer of recent journalism school grads. Patch needs that kind of consistency — not the burnout and turnover that afflicted some of its initial battalion of young editors — if it is to build credibility in communities where it’s still largely unknown.

Some critics can find little to like in Patch, largely because of its ownership by AOL. They depict the startup as a giant corporate octopus, which threatens to strangle the life out of mom-and-pop local news sites.

But I have a hard time rooting against even the biggest of the big boys if they are willing to pump new money and troops into local news coverage, which has become more and more anemic, especially in small-town America, with the retreat of many newspapers. The best local sites will survive the challenge from the newcomer, though almost all Internet news operations still must solve the puzzle of how to make enough money to survive.