Patch.com, AOL’s well-funded, decent-paying, journo-hoovering, hyper-local venture, now lists five Minnesota cities on its website: Edina, Eagan, Golden Valley, Richfield and St. Louis Park. None are operational yet — that comes later this fall.
For those of you keeping score, all five cities are currently served by the Sun Suburban newspaper chain, which last summer emerged from bankruptcy leaner in the staffing and coverage department. I’ve had scattered reports of raises at Sun this year, by the way, though it’s unclear if that’s ad sales or incipient competition talking.
Though it remains to be seen how substantive Patch’s coverage will be, a few of these these communities will be looking at a hyper-local dog fight, at least on the ad side. (Patch hires “entrepreneurial” journalists whose early duties include making comprehensive business directories.)
Eagan not only has a Sun paper, but also ECM Publishing’s ThisWeek. Edina’s Morningside neighborhood just saw an incursion from the Minneapolis-based Southwest Journal, but that paper only distributes its Minneapolis coverage (and ads) there; it doesn’t cover Edina per se.
Griping incumbents can take solace from this L.A. Weekly profile, “Patch: The Wal-Mart of News” and Howard Owens’ “How to Beat Patch.” The former contends AOL will undercut locals on ads and lure away their sales and writing staffs with bigger dollars, while the latter encourages locals to tout their roots. (In Sun’s case, though, it’s a Texas-based chain with local divisions … sorta like Patch.)
As I’ve noted previously, Patch’s Minnesota operation could include nearly 50 cities, most of them suburbs or further-flung cities such as Northfield.
[Hat tip: J.H.]