AOL Patch Freelancer Feels Like Major Cuts Are Happening, But That's Not Quite The Case

Business Insider

Early this morning a (now) former freelancer for AOL's online local news network of sites, Patch, emailed us to say that major cuts are going down throughout the organization.

We took this tip to an AOL spokesperson, and got their side of the story.

Publishing both should help clarify the situation for AOL shareholders as well as Patch readers and employees.

First, the tipster's email:

Patch has eliminated paid freelancers entirely and reorganized sites effective this month. Now one editor is in charge of 6 Patch sites (called a community manager). Under them are two "reporters" - former editors of those sites.  The gut feeling inside of those who remain is that the "reporters" will become expendable at some point and the content will become completely rehashed material from other media sources or free content (such as press releases and posts from the public).  As editors (now called reporters) leave, they will not be replaced.  I write this anonymously, as I am a former Patch paid freelancer whose role was eliminated in this latest round of cuts.  This is a far cry from the one town, one editor format when Patch started out.    

And now, AOL's rebuttal:

Patch has eliminated paid freelancers entirely and reorganized sites effective this month.

False.  We have money budgeted per local area for market investment which will include freelancers, contractors, marketing, etc.

Now one editor is in charge of 6 Patch sites (called a community manager). 

False.  But we want to have a Patch in every town in the country.  So we are testing and experimenting with a number of different models and monitoring the results.

Under them are two "reporters" - former editors of those sites.  

False
.

The gut feeling inside of those who remain is that the "reporters" will become expendable at some point and the content will become completely rehashed material from other media sources or free content (such as press releases and posts from the public).  

False.  We have always been, and remain, committed to original reporting.  We believe that high quality community contribution and aggregation should supplement original reporting.

As editors (now called reporters) leave, they will not be replaced.

Not true.  We hired over 300 people last year.

So it sounds like a re-org is happening, but that it's not quite as drastic as our tipster makes out.

For what it's worth, AOL should re-org Patch. That thing loses boatloads of money.

At the very least, it sounds like AOL could do a better job communicating with its employees about what's going on with Patch.



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