Tracking Patchsters (con’t)

I admit, I’m making a hobby of tracking the budding roster of Patch.com, the AOL hyperlocal news push scheduled to debut in the Twin Cities any month now.

Part of my preoccupation is the challenge: AOL’s public relations wall is surprisingly high and resoundingly mute, given that this is a journalism operation. (I hope when Patchsters start reporting, they don’t take a P.R. “no” as an answer.)

But the more honorable part is that, if I understand the staffing correctly, Patch.com could debut with one of the state’s biggest newsrooms.

Here’s the new stuff I know for sure: Patch will have four regional editors. Each will supervise a dozen or so full-time local editors, who cover mostly the suburbs, but also some better-heeled central-city neighborhoods.

For example, Jon Collins, a very good young investigative reporter and Minnesota Daily veteran, will be the local editor in Minneapolis’ Linden Hills neighborhood.

For one of its four regional editors, Patch just hired Troy Melhus, an ex-Startribune.com digital producer and features editor. Melhus left the Strib during a January wave of layoffs and buyouts. He’ll have a “northeast” territory including Stillwater, Shoreview and White Bear Lake.

Melhus joins Don Wyatt, a Knight-Ridder veteran with Pioneer Press and Duluth News-Tribune executive experience. Wyatt deferred to the P.R. types, but could be heading up the region that includes Apple Valley.

If four regional editors are supervising 12 local editors, that would give Patch a 52-full-timer staff. Depending on how you count newsroom personnel, that’s within shouting distance of the Pioneer Press and MPR.

As I’ve noted previously, the quality and profitability of micro-news remains to be seen, but you can see why AOL’s push has local newsies chattering.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Jon Austin on 09/23/2010 - 11:17 am.

    “AOL’s public relations wall is surprisingly high and resoundingly mute, given that this is a journalism operation.”

    This is you being – as the kids say – ironical, right? My observation is that media properties are often the most closed-mouth organizations out there. I used to enjoy listening to reporters tell me the “smart thing” for me was to talk to them while reading that their own corporate spokespeople “declined comment” on some bit of business.

  2. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/23/2010 - 03:29 pm.

    An investigative reporter for Linden Hills neighborhood?…like, maybe, what happened to that good taffy that used to be sold at the old Lake Harriet grandstand in the 60’s?

    Patch.com certainly gives some good paying jobs to how many unemployed reporters I suppose…but for how long; plus, how many ‘community orientated’ news sources can one community support?

    There are greater issues beyond one’s immediate, local doorstep; like world issues and how they affect us or we effect them…wars and famine and natural disasters to name a few; living in and with the world one could say??

    Corporate experimentation with not too innovative news format means sucking excessive trivia to intrigue and titillate…wow.

    To glimpse what news reporting used to be when critical commentary set a certain higher standard of delivery and content…check out the Eric Sevareid Symposium coming soon; detailed at [http://www.sevareidlegacy.com/schedule.html]…if only to recall what was and what we are slowly losing before you can even say “Read all about it.”

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