Patch was planning to launch its hyperlocal site in Carlsbad on Monday, but on Friday afternoon the biggest story of the year broke in the San Diego, California suburb.
A man with a pistol and a can of gasoline started shooting at kids on a school playground. Two were hit, and the suspect was tackled by bystanders. The site’s editor, confronted with a huge story and no site to post it on, sent out a few tweets. On Saturday morning, the site launched early “due to breaking news events,” with a wrap-up story and video.
Meanwhile, the indie news blog for Carlsbad was all over the story, posting a steady stream of updates from the scene, both on the site and Twitter. By the time the day was over, the site featured several stories, photos and video. “This was huge for our community,” said the publishers of Carlsbadistan.com, who are identified only as “the Editors.”
“We operate this site because we love media and we love Carlsbad,” they explained in an email. “We don’t advertise or market our site. We don’t even have a professional sales staff. So when these kinds of events happen, the last thing we’re think about is what it means for the site…. The only thing we’re taking comfort in is that we had community members who took action successfully and that nobody died.”
As for the new competition, the Editors said it’s pointless to get in a money race with AOL. “They are the world champions of wasting money on doomed projects and they will outspend you every time,” they wrote when we asked about Patch. “That said, having a company with the visibility of AOL interested in hyperlocal media brings more attention to the whole category and that’s good for all of us right?”
Also: This reminds us of an earlier story we posted about a small newspaper in Ferndale, California that covered a big earthquake entirely on Twitter.