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Springfield Patch Editor Profile Disabled, More Massive Layoffs At Patch

By on Jan 29 2014.
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Springfield Patch Editor Liz Alterman’s profile on the site has been disabled and a message tells readers, “There doesn’t seem to be anything at this address.”  No announcements have been made about who will serve as the new editor for Springfield Patch or if the site will be around much longer.  TechCrunch reports multiple rounds of layoffs will be happening throughout the day as part of a restructuring by the new majority stakeholder of Patch.

A recording of the call informing staff of their lay off leaked today.

This morning, hundreds of editors and staff members at Patch were laid off in a second round of massive downsizing.  BusinessInsider reported a source as saying, “They put a bullet in its head today.”  Only about 250 sites nationwide will reportedly survive.  Patch editoral staff is being reduced by nearly 80%.  Around the country, readers noticed no new content was posted since Tuesday while regional news outlets like those in the Lehigh Valley and the Princeton area reported on the effects of the layoffs.  One source familiar with the New Jersey Patch network told Springfielder.com that only about 8 editors will remain to run the Patch sites across the state.  Over 80 Patch sites exist statewide but an insider notes many will likely be closed or consolidated.  The source says the writing has been on the wall for such a move.  Recently, town Patch sites have been unusually aggressive in actively promoting County Patch Facebook sites, which may be a sign of Patch strategy to eliminate local sites.  Such a move would undermine the Patch effort to be “hyper-local” and focus on local news that matters.

Over the past year, Springfielder.com has tracked various changes at AOL’s Patch network of hyperlocal news as a result of a downward financial and management spiral. In the past two years, Springfield Patch has seen a revolving door of editors that started with the departure of the first editor, Adam Bulger. His move by Patch to Essex County in January 2013 signaled changes that were occurring as a result of restructuring believed to maximize profit and reduce expenses. In June 2013, it was widely reported that Patch’s more than 900 sites were not profitable. While some predicted AOL would end the Patch venture, it reorganized and took a new approach.  Then in August, the industry was shocked to learn about AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s very public firing of a top official at Patch causing more speculation about the future of Patch.  Later that month, news broke that AOL laid off about 500 Patch employees and was drastically reducing the number of their local sites.  Across the country, Patch sites ceased operations, staff was let go, and yet another new strategy was implemented.  Just about half of the sites remained and local editors were burdened with covering more territory.  While Springfield Patch survived the August round of cuts, visitors noticed a drastic decline in the quality of news reporting and the quantity of irrelevant, non-specific news that was being pushed out.  Headlines read that “AOL is slowly dismantling Patch” while residents noted that the Springfield site simply regurgitated Township Facebook posts and official announcements on the Township website.

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