26 responses to “AOL’s Patch hyperlocal hiring spree – boon or bane for writers?”

  1. Tweets that mention AOL's Patch hyperlocal hiring spree - boon or bane for writers? | WordCount -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MichelleRafter, Alyssa Martino. Alyssa Martino said: @saltzberg interesting RT @michellerafter AOL's Patch hyperlocal hiring spree – boon or bane for writers? | WordCount http://bit.ly/9ub5Ny […]

  2. PoeWar Writing Newsletter #1 – Welcome! | PoeWar

    […] AOL’s Patch hyperlocal hiring spree – boon or bane for writers? by Michelle V. Rafter at WordCount: I think Hyperlocal news is the wave of the future, but I’m not sure I want to see it dominated by major corporation, that’s what went wrong in the world of newspapers. Corporations do not care about communities in my experience. […]

  3. Danielle Buffardi -PenPoint Editorial

    Patch seems like a painting you’re not sure if you like…so you need to continually step toward and away from it to analyze.

    I’m waiting in the wings on Patch to see what becomes of it before I even consider calling it a “real job” in the writing arena.

    Keep us updated Michelle!

  4. Ann El

    The ones that are railing about Patch’s long hours are the ones that don’t have good news judgment or time management skills, or simply can’t cut it. I don’t know an editor there who’s working more than 50 hours a week, and I’ve never worked more than 50 hours a week for them. You’re always going to have those people that try something and hate it, so they’re the most vocal (if you go to ApartmentRatings.com it’s mostly filled with people who had bad experiences and want to rant about them). But by and large, a lot of us are really happy with our Patch jobs and are glad to have jobs in journalism.

    For what it’s worth, I worked at a community weekly for two and a half years. I was our writer, reporter, editor, social networker, photographer, videographer, website manager and did the formatting and layout design of the print edition each week. I worked more than 70 hours a week. I made much, much less than I’m making at Patch (to me the pay is definitely not crummy). My community newspaper closed at the beginning of this summer. Comparatively this is a breath of fresh air.

    1. Madfreelancer

      Do you pay your freelancers in a timely manner? I work for a Patch editor who does not and when questioned about it, gets defensive and whines about how hard she’s working 24/7.

  5. Cindy L

    I freelanced as a columnist and features writer for local daily papers from 1984 through 2006. When those papers started trimming budgets, freelance columnists like me were the first to go.

    Which is why I am amazed at print journalists who question why anyone would work for Patch. As a longtime print journalist, I’d dearly love to be working for my old papers again, but they don’t have a place for me or half my colleagues anymore. (One of the papers I worked for told me I could come back and blog on their Web site — without pay. Such a deal.)

    So, when a local Patch editor offered me a chance to write a weekly column — for pay — what did I have to lose? I’ve enjoyed getting huge response to my Patch columns — more than I ever got from my print columns a few years ago. And it’s great to be writing for my own community again.

    1. Madfreelancer

      Are you still getting paid? Regularly? Does your editor ever tell you he/she is too busy to enter your stories/info into the payment system to get you paid? That’s what’s been happening to me for a month!

    2. Jonovan

      I am considering writing a weekly Patch column. Can someone tell me how much I should expect to be paid? Yes, I have experience (writing for national and regional magazines). Thanks.

  6. K. Paul Mallasch
  7. Mary McGrath

    I’ve contributed to several Patch sites over the past several months. I find the part-time work stimulating, and the prompt payment a real plus. Many magazines and newspapers pay very slowly, as you often have to wait until your story appears before you are compensated. This can often take months or a few years before you are paid.

    Go Patch!

    1. Madfreelancer

      Good luck. Hope you keep getting paid in a timely manner.

  8. Madfreelancer

    I’ve been freelancing for a Patch site for a couple of months, and used to get paid right away. Not anymore. I haven’t been paid in almost a month (about 8 stories published with no pay in site, and Patch pays twice/week).

    It’s not worth it, people.

  9. Kris

    I think Patch will be dealing with constant turnover. My editor is very, very inexperienced and stretched far too thin. I’m sure this is just a stepping stone to a job at a better editing job, but she’s not good at editing content (typos are all over the sit), managing people, or delegating tasks. I’m under the impression this is how Patches are all over the place. I’m not sure how they can keep this up. Even though some of my columns pay well others pay crap. I don’t think that freelancers will stick with something like this for very long. I’m not sure I will.

  10. Dear Patch: Just because you don’t pay doesn’t mean it’s not work | Guild Freelancers

    […] we’re not ashamed to mention that some of our best friends are Patch editors. (You should pay them better. But that’s another […]

  11. Leah

    I work for AOL Patch on Long Island and have had no problem finding enough work to keep me busy–too busy. While my schedule is full, my pockets are not. I bust my ass to make $500/week. That’s ten stories at $50/per with a 500 word limit. In itself, that is not a bad rate for community journalism. But, considering that editors’ freelance budgets for each town are relatively low (depending on the size of the town, experience of editor, etc), you can only hustle so many assignments out of each town…meaning that I am spending vulgar amounts of money on gas driving all over Nassau County. I also have to pay my freelancer’s taxes at the end of the year which will probably reach nearly ten percent of my income. So, I am making less than $20,000 net for a 35-40 hour work week with no benefits. The flip side is that the schedule is very flexible, the people are very nice, and the editors are very competent. AOL is hiring editors from Newsday, Bloomberg, etc–major news outlets– and working for them you will undoubtedly learn how to improve your reporting and writing skills. One of my editors has amazed me with his rewriting skills– if my piece is dragging or disjointed–he whips it into shape in a half hour. Literally, amazing. And my name is in the by-line. The point is: if you don’t have a beat or an editor who can give you a lot of work, you will be busting you ass and racking your dome trying to keep pace with Patch’s daily demands AND make a living while living. It’s really not a sustainable option for freelancers. Though, if you can make a quick video they pay $100. Hope this provides insight for anyone considering Patch as a freelancer.

  12. Patch NorthEast

    I answered a Craigslist ad to write directory listings for a new “local, town oriented news website” in my town over a year ago. I was paid $12.00 for each listing (mind you, I spent about 6 hours on each listing between locating the buisiness (I live in town adn know many business owners but was assigned vague, random -sketchy businesses (even after telling the editor and regional editor they would have more quality listings produced faster if I contacted the people I knew). To go on ( I am upset, if you can’t tell) between researching the businesses online, writing the listing, taking pictures, editing the pictures and finally putting together a directory listing that I felt was worthy of the business (even if I didn’t know the owners personally or htey didn’t want to talk to me) I live in the town I write for and was passionate about making EACH piece 100%. I should have seen the problems at the beginning. Re: being paid-I used to get paid twice week (religiously) on Tues. and Thurs. Since the site was launched in our town I have also taken on a column and in the beginning had many additional pieces. My column (which is required-I’d like some clarity on that as w e aRE freelancers) pays what sounds the standards $50.00, but I find others are making close for pieces that don’t require nearly as much work.
    And, I don’t have guidelines for the extra pieces I take on-I don’t know what I will make until I am paid (after I beg, plead and hound my editor to put the payments into paypal).
    I am also upset to find some of my most popular pieces are “sent around” to websites I do NOT want my name affiliated with. It is lack of experience and laziness on the editors part.

    I live in a VERY close knit community and Patch took off-in part because of the pieces about our town, but now…it is dwindling. BIG, HISTORIC town events are happening and -they are not being covered. We have my editor and two of us, moms who write columns-but are majorly invested in the town (and writing). We’re losing our monentum for Patch but stay because, well of our town. But the town is getting bored-they read our columsn and a few others…they don’t want all of the corporate stuff.
    People have said (many times) why doesn’t someone from town run (town name) Patch-because so many love it….but it is falling, and failing fast (and our editor also is overstressed, doesn’t communicate and doesn’t edit).
    It’s fine with me, I can write my piece but he deosn’t realize the town he is writing for-personal stories are more importamt/ AND at the end of the day, I NEED to be paid-and NOT fight for it everyweek.

    AND, I want to know when my story gets published elsewhere.

    I would also like to know the general pay scale because none of it makes sense in my area.

    Thanks all from Patch NorthEast

    1. Patcher

      You’re right! I used to get paid twice a week, and now I’m contacting my editors daily, asking if they processed payments for stories that ran two weeks ago. Since Patch cut its freelance budget and hired one writer for each site – and why didn’t Patch hire from within the freelancers it already has, who know the areas? – the sites have been like rag-mags you see on the shelves.

      What about that hyperlocal angle Patch wanted in the beginning? Now it’s geared to women in the 30s-40s age bracket, and as more than one person said here, it’s losing the local angle by not covering events that are important to the people who live in areas its supposed to cover.

      Another one bites the dust.

      1. Sue

        My time with Patch ended last month after nearly 18 months of steady assignments. I’d heard that Patch sites were hiring one full-time reporter and thought for sure each local editor would select his or her reporter from the freelance staff, who live in and know the area. That didn’t happen, I understand from three editors, who say the new “contract” reporters work 35 hours per week and have to juggle assignments. One editor told me he can’t cover everything and has to decide which assignments are important. Important to him or to the community he covers? What happens to Patch’s desire for hyper local news? It surely does sound like Patch was mismanaged in that regional editors were “hands off” the hiring process and left it to the local editors, who already had full plates. All this, and only two years old.

  13. MusicLover

    This has a great deal to do with the decline of professionalism and cheating people out of decent professional wages and the ability to earn a living. It’s no wonder that education has become so little valued. According to what I’ve read above, there’s no point in attending journalism school or courses, no standards, no commitment to the profession. Just a bunch of overqualified “cub” reporters who are hitting dead ends and whose work has no monetary value. Corporations keep getting away with murder, and, increasingly, the impoverishment of working people and slashing of wages. It’s so distressing to see what’s become of this country, how our values and definitions of education and professionalism have gone down the tubes. Just keep everyone poor and scrabbling for any kind of work, keep wages down, bust unions, and the few at the top can reap all the profits and perks, while more and more at the s0-called middle-class range are reduced to begging for scraps. We used to do so much better. Shame on the USA for becoming this kind of nation.

  14. Adam Thompson

    This is a topic worth revisiting since Patch recently cut their freelance budgets to almost nothing, going to a “user generated content” model. Now freelancers are being asked to do the same work at a fraction of the pay — from $50 per story to about $5 to $15 per story. Good luck getting reliable writers for that!