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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 a

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.

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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.