Patch ‘Probably Costs Too Much To Last’

Well, some bad but not particularly surprising predictions from The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta in a six-page spread about Tim Armstrong’s attempted turnaround of AOL: the “content first” strategy that has involved hiring so many hundreds of journalists may not be working.

Data point number one: Patch, which has 750-plus locations across the country and has provided jobs to countless numbers of journalists, is too much like a “digital Yellow Pages” and not enough like, well, journalism. It also, says PaidContent, summarizing Auletta’s piece, is likely too expensive to be sustainable, at $30 million a quarter.

And since the article was written, even more data points to the idea that AOL’s strategy is not working. Last week, Armstrong announced his intention to outsource sports, health, and real estate content rather than creating it in-house. (FanHouse, AOL’s now moribund sports site, did good work breaking news soon after its launch in early 2009.)

Ask an AOL exec, however, and you won’t hear any of this. These are still third-party predictions, but keep an eye out for how they do or don’t pan out soon.