No layoffs at Patch today

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Patch editors Friday there would be no “impacts,” or layoffs announced today. The “impacts” will arrive on a rolling basis over the next week, he said.

Armstrong said in an earnings call earlier this week that AOL would sell or close as many as 300 underperforming Patch sites.

In the call Friday, Armstrong said Patch would spend the next week looking at options for 400 of the local news initiative’s 900 sites. They’ll fold or Patch will find partners to run them. “We’re going to become a fast-moving company and fast-moving partner company,” Armstrong said.

Nicholas Carlson reported Thursday that AOL wouldn’t address a rumor that Patch CEO Steve Kalin and Chief Content Officer Rachel Feddersen were leaving the company. TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington is reporting that Armstrong “will be running the show along with new CEO Bud Rosenthal.”

Etherington also reports one of the weirder stories to come out of this call:

In a somewhat dramatic twist, Armstrong reportedly fired an employee who took his photo in front of the 1,000 people in attendance on the call, which our tipster characterized as “shameful and disgusting.”

Richard Horgan also reports that Bud Rosenthal is the new CEO of Patch.

Pressfolios announced it would give three free months of its service, which allows journalists to back up their work, to Patch employees “impacted” by these changes. As of this morning, Pressfolios cofounder Marc Samson tells Poynter in an email, 42 people have taken the company up on its offer.

I haven’t had any luck getting comment from Patch this week, but I’m still trying.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • sickofnjcorruption

    A PATCH INTERN’S STORY:

    As things worsen throughout the summer, I thought many times to email you, but all those scary “intellectual property” contracts and the weight of AOL scared me out of it. You know… “you’ll never get a job in this town again!” syndrome. But after what I went through, I don’t care anymore. I don’t want people to make the mistake I made and take an internship with Patch.
    I wasn’t stupid. Long before I took Patch’s offer, I was well-aware that Patch was shaky journalism, that start-ups are risky, that it was struggling, fiscally. But I figured, hey—It’s paid, touts a $1,000 scholarship and would make me a Dow Jones News Fund alum. The sites might be shitty, but that doesn’t mean I can’t just make my content great….right?
    Wrong.

    The internship started on an unfortunate note when Patch flew all 60 of us to Bowling Green, Ky., to participate in the Dow Jones News Fund. Of course, DJNF is rather revered in the industry. They have standards, and they are traditionalists. Patch, however, is not. The conflict between Patch’s expectations/mission and DJNF became more uncomfortable and stark as the days went on. We spent over an hour learning about narrative long-form, only to be told by Patch that the most we would write is 300 words. Do you see the problem?
    Then, on my first day of my internship, my LE asked what kind of work I’d like to do. I told him I liked investigative pieces, trend stories and profiles. He kind of laughed and danced around it.
    “Patch isn’t really a place for investigative journalism,” he told me. Breaking news? “Oh we just let the big papers get to it first then we just link back. No need to rush out.” Politics? “Someone from HQ will just write something up and send it over.” Original reporting? “Oh, well we actually have a certain daily quota of posts we have to aggregate from other places.”
    I could almost feel the blood drain from my face. I had just signed up for a summer of event calendars and link-bait.
    Things have rapidly worsened. As an intern, I am expected to write no less than 4 posts a day, plus any breaking news aggregation, plus pre-writing and scheduling all the content for the weekend. That is no small task..especially for $10 an hour. Other interns on the East Coast seem to have been luckier, but it seems I got a bad “Patch.”
    Content has rapidly worsened, too. After 2.0, new “programming” came from HQ that mandated many of our daily posts to “ease the workload.” Unfortunately, none of these posts were substantial. The sites are now littered with sponsored content and user-written blogs are masqueraded as news. Editors high up in the company write generic, catch-all posts that are edited to seem local and posted on the sites. (This has not gone well, as readers aren’t stupid.) Essentially, Patch is just smoke and mirrors.
    This isn’t what I went to journalism school for. They should have advertised the internship as “online publishing” or even “blogging,” but definitely not journalism. In fact, the woman who hired all of us has no background whatsoever in journalism. That, alone, speaks volumes.
    It hurts me, ethically, to rip off other outlet’s stories. It hurts me to re-write press releases and troll through city websites looking for things to rewrite. Will I even list Patch on my résumé?
    I don’t think so. I’m ashamed at the type of journalist I have become, and I’m rather certain the majority of Patchers can relate. We’re all miserable, and we want this all to end.

  • katyll

    What the hell are you talking about??

  • sickofnjcorruption

    The problem here is many of you reporters caused your own damage by the wrong reporting and defamation you contributed in your biased stories. New Jersey was notorious. Those evil reporters got paid to destroy peoples lives and one of them is now working for Metro. He should be ashamed of himself. Karma is ugly and it will fall on him and his daughter.

  • sickofnjcorruption

    Your right, there has been some good patch editors, but the ones in NJ are biased and became enslaved to a corrupt system. They wrote stories that destroyed peoples lives and then got paid to move on after they left behind the damage. Armstrong is upset that things are not working out for patch, maybe he should stop and think about the harm and pain he’s caused to people with some of these dirty political reckless writers that were paid for by dirty political advertising. It’s Karma, I hope they shut all of the patch division down. It’s done serious damage.

  • Lauren Elyse

    Sick- As a Patch employee, I completely agree that serious defamation, bullying and smear campaign-esque comments are posted on Patch sites every day. And yes, they are often politically-charged. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and had to deal with it nearly every day for three years.
    However, please don’t bundle every editor and actual journalist who has put literal blood, sweat and tears into their sites and treated them as if they were their children into that category. The majority of us have stuck it out this far because we love serving our communities with hyper-local news. That was the original grassroots vision for Patch, or at least that’s what was conveyed to us. Whatever happens from here on out, at least we (meaning the majority of Patch editors), tried our best and will continue to as long as we can.
    Thanks.

  • sickofnjcorruption

    Tim Armstrong is very indecisive, he is putting investors in deeper debt trying to hold on to a failing, problematic company – PATCH which was bought and paid for by politicians to use patch as a vehicle to create and manufacture SMEAR CAMPAIGNS aka DEFAMATION. The FCC and the Justice Department need to start considering indictments on the people behind these Smear Campaigns and lewd comments. AOL should have Armstrong Resign. He is embarrassing himself with once again, FICTIONAL NEWS PRACTICES. PATCH IS CLOSING, PATCH IS NOT CLOSING, PATCH IS PROFITABLE, PATCH IS NOT PROFITABLE. Is he on drugs?