Who got let go?

Local doesn't scale. We've seen it again and again; giant chains trying to templatize the production of news. Networked plays such as Patch fail precisely because they are *not* local. They seek to profit from communities, rather than being invested in them.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Pete, a simple fix in the beginning would have been to create it as a South County Patch or Orange County Patch, rather than having this "Hyper Local" version for three reasons. First, I personally feel that I'm a resident of a region, not just a city limit. There are so many great things about our area, which include the beaches of San Clemente and the shops on Del Mar, the Dana Point Harbor, The Mission and Downtown San Juan, and events all over this area. I don't see myself as an isolationist who only spends his time in the bubble of a single city limit. Second, they would have found many more cost efficiencies by having a single editor and staff writers covering a larger area. Finally, the advertisers would have had REAL results by reaching a larger audience. Having had the unique experience of working for this organization, I realized quickly that they had ZERO concern for their advertisers. The philosophy was to get them signed up and move on to the next targets, while passing the account off to some youngsters working out of a cube farm in New York or San Francisco to manage the account. These were employees with very little if any experience in advertising and no concept of the market conditions or competition. I wasn't brought up that way in the industry. As a degreed professional, the management of the account and the relationship we built was an important part of my work week. Not at Patch. They actually had a word, CHURN, that was part of the culture that I never had anywhere else. Since the advertising results were absolutely pathetic, they would CHURN through advertisers. And rather than trying to find a way to make it more successful, their solution was merely to sign up new advertisers to replace the ones that would naturally eventually leave. Not a good long term plan. CHURN also related to employees. The corporate higher-ups had very little concern for employees and would simply replace them at the drop of a hat. Having been the #1 Sales Rep on the West Coast, thank you very much, I never felt comfortable or secure in my position.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 11:05 AM
And of course, the coverage of "News" is thin at best and the editor in San Juan we were stuck with at the end when a better, more popular editor left, had a questionable "journalism" background and had never worked for a legitimate, traditional news organization. So we were stuck with a disproportionate amount of CUSD stories simply because she had kids in the school system. I had met parents who had kids in the same classes as her kids and she was known as "that crazy red-headed lady." Not my quote...theirs. But having seen her in action in public, its hard for me not to agree. Shripathi, I don't know if you actually met her in person, perhaps she is a friend of yours.
concerned parent January 30, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Eric Bergstrom, what nonsense. You sound as if you have a major ax to grind. There are many of us who read Patch primarily because of its coverage of CUSD, particularly after the Register ended its coverage. And you may want to think twice about attacking someone as "crazy" (yeah, it would be on you, not some anonymous parents, because you're the one who wrote it). Since Patch started, I've been impressed by the volume, quality and depth of its coverage on a range of issues. I'm a former journalist with decades of experience in print and broadcasting, and I can tell you that the reporting is generally extremely sound. It would be a real loss to this community if Patch were to go under, and you're doing a serious disservice to a reporter/editor who works her butt off and does a great job. And no, I don't know Penny personally and doubt I'd recognize her if I saw her on the street.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 11:34 AM
What can I say anonymous Concerned Parent. Obviously you're a fan. Even Jim Jones had his fans who were willing to drink the Kool-aid. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 11:42 AM
And I'm not going to deny I have an axe to grind. I was used by this corporation as were several co-workers who became good friends. I've clearly stated my reasons why I have a bad taste in my mouth from my experience with Patch. I had high hopes for a business model I thought would be the future of journalism only to be let down and lied to. I saw it from the business side and the journalists saw it through rose-colored glasses and never seemed to understand what it would take to be successful. But go
concerned parent January 30, 2014 at 11:52 AM
I don't know your story, and frankly I don't care. Saying I "drink the Kool-aid" because I appreciate Patch's coverage is ludicrous. But demonizing reporters/editors on personal and vicious terms because of a business model that wasn't of their own making--and concentrating on their job of journalism--strikes me as classless and out of bounds. You may really want to rethink how you're coming across on a public forum...
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Your anonymous name is Concerned Parent. Obviously you want School News. I've seen your posts before on CUSD topics. Ergo the kool-aid reference. There are a multiplicity of problems with the San Juan Patch, some of them corporate and some of them due to their one-person staff. I would prefer to see this as a news outlet that wasn't so focused on one topic. When they get around to taking down the SJC Patch, you should team up with the current editor and create a news source that focuses on education news. But I understand that the current editor's other side business is an Amway type of Body Wrap Weight Loss Scheme. Journalism, to use the word loosely, is not her primary focus. Or perhaps she'll moonlight with the common sense newspaper. Who knows.
Whiskey Bent January 30, 2014 at 01:02 PM
I have met Penny many times and she certainly not crazy. Get over yourself.
Shripathi Kamath January 30, 2014 at 01:03 PM
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 12:34 PM But I understand that the current editor's other side business is an Amway type of Body Wrap Weight Loss Scheme. ___________________________________________________ Consider then that it is a major contributing factor to why she won Survivor - South OC Patches 2014.
Panglonymous January 30, 2014 at 01:18 PM
'Survivor - South OC Patches 2014' Whimsy! I like! :-)
Panglonymous January 30, 2014 at 01:18 PM
Documentary video, purged patchers interviewed, human/cultural/business interest, iron: hot. Unless separation benefits are somehow contingent on no-talkum-a-while. Eh?
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 01:38 PM
Anonymous Pubes, perhaps they meant goofy or wacky. Certainly no less. https://soundcloud.com/jim-romenesko/sounds-from-wednesday-morning
Shripathi Kamath January 30, 2014 at 01:38 PM
Eric, DUDE. I empathize with the butthurt having gone through it myself on at least two prior occasions in a different profession; journalism being way more cut-throat, but you should have seen this coming. Especially if you were in sales, and familiar with the restaurant.com mindset.
Panglonymous January 30, 2014 at 01:42 PM
Shri, can you summarize the restaurant.com mindset for the viewers at home?
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 01:47 PM
Some quotes of those laid off: “The patch years were years of being aol’s tool and plaything. Killed myself, almost literally. Left with literally nothing. Better off dead.” “I was a local editor for Patch for 3.5 years, up until about an hour ago. ..We knew it was coming. but the silence from New York over the few months was deafening. They left us in a state of suspended animation. For those of us who killed ourselves working for this company, it was a real slap in the face.” “Patch editors in Michigan were laid off today.” “I was hired in 2010, survived two rounds of layoffs but not the third. I was told middle managers in editorial were on a call earlier this week and being asked about which local editors are worthy. Based on info from HQ, I had one of the top sites in all of Patch for the past 2 years, but now I’m on the outs. Sounds like politics and not performance is the deciding factor for most, if not all, of us.” Dan Friedell writes: “When I was there I wrote 150 articles, video presentations, photo galleries, multimedia displays and things like that for Patch in northern Virginia from about October 2010 until early in 2012. My biggest worry about the way Patch has been handled right now is that all of the archive disappeared. My best work from that era is gone seemingly forever.”
GreenInOC January 30, 2014 at 01:47 PM
@Eric Bergstrom, did you really think that post 2000 AOL would be innovative in anything? If so, that is on you. I think you're wrong about local - people love it if it's done well. SJC Patch is an example of it being done well. LN Patch is an example of it being done spectacularly poorly. With the OC Register's newish policy of paid subscriptions I think it's even much more important to have a local news source, especially like the one that Penny helms.
GreenInOC January 30, 2014 at 01:52 PM
@Eric Bergstrom, "...I wrote 150 articles, video presentations, photo galleries, multimedia displays and things like that for Patch in northern Virginia from about October 2010 until early in 2012." That's about 488 days which means that this person wrote something at a mind-numbing pace of one every 3.25 days. Hmmm.... what's surprising isn't that the person didn't survive the latest round of lay offs but how they survived the 1st one.
Shripathi Kamath January 30, 2014 at 01:54 PM
Panglonymous January 30, 2014 at 01:42 PM Shri, can you summarize the restaurant.com mindset for the viewers at home? ___________________________________________________ LOL. I would not want to steal Eric's thunder here. ;-)
Shripathi Kamath January 30, 2014 at 02:03 PM
@GreenInOC, it is easy to see how the person survived the first one. Anyone producing content at that pace? Got to be among their most productive ones (quantity matters a little bit more). But obviously the person still cost a tad more than the "PuffHo Exposure Dollars" Patch was willing to dish out.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Shri - we did see it coming. I was having quite a bit of success in the fall and winter of 2012. I was leading the West Coast in Sales and I produced 5 debates during the elections and was hopeful. However, the pay was awful, even as the leading marketing guy on the West. Then in January they reduced our comps and I knew the end was coming and started creating an exit strategy on the side (no, not body wraps). Look, it's not just me, there are 100's of us who got burned. Hyper local is working for Stu News in Laguna. Hopefully, some good journalists can follow his model create independent on-line news ventures. But for the advertisers, what is needed is something wider in scope to bring them more effective results.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 02:11 PM
BTW, Anonymous Green - Your idol, Penny, was running the LN Patch that you call awful for quite some time. Sadly, it looks like the top two journalists in the region - Pete Schelden and Martin Henderso - have been let go. It's a joke.
Shripathi Kamath January 30, 2014 at 02:17 PM
Hey thanks, I had not heard of Stu News. Looks interesting enough. Surprising that it is doing well given how crowded the space seems to be. Before Patch, MV used to be served by the Mission Viejo Dispatch, and that has gone defunct (or merged into ccsense, perhaps). It too was quite popular, and I saw the same theme as I see with Patch (at least the SJC version): specific political slant, mixed with some news.
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 02:17 PM
Anonymous Panglo - Jim Lipuma was the top marketing dog for Restaurant.com and after he killed that, they brought him on board to be the top marketing dog for Patch. You see how that worked out. Not sure what Shri is referring to. I can describe Lipuma's style as completely lacking substance or integrity or commitment to the advertisers - "Churn and Burn, Baby"
GreenInOC January 30, 2014 at 02:25 PM
@Eric Bergstrom, while I'm sure you're right but since I've been reading she hasn't. Pete Schelden lost is journalistic chops somewhere along the way before arrive at the LN Patch. What he did at the LN Patch is a joke. Prior to his tenure there was a woman who posted a story about the people who bought a house from someone who bought it from someone who had rented it to Whitney Houston. The new owners found a bow in a closet and surmised that it was Whitney Houston's. Then she got all twisted when she was questioned for this choice of "news". Regarding my respect of Penny - it's well deserved. She keeps on top on content, she's able to interact with readers, she's able to keep her cool, she's willing and able to admit an error and she keeps her pages interesting. It doesn't seem to me you have an actual problem with Penny, you just want to keep picking at an old wound - one which you won't take any responsibility for - but she just gets caught up in your resentments due to your windmill .type assaults. I will ask again, as a degreed professional, what made you think a post-2000 AOL would be innovative?
Eric Bergstrom January 30, 2014 at 02:33 PM
What can I say, Hindsight is 20/20. And as far as the current (and apparently still there for now) editor, I simply prefer to respect and trust the person responsible for being the gatekeeper to news and I have neither of those things for her. There used to be a great go-getter by the name of Jenna who moved on to bigger and better things and we simply ended up with a person who really wasn't qualified. You have your opinion and I have mine. I'm out, later.
Eric Bergstrom January 31, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Mysteriously, Penny Arevalo showed up to Coffee Chat for the first time in over a year to let everyone know that Patch is Alive and Well. So, in June they laid off 50% off their workforce. Now, they laid off 90% or what remained. Yeah, that sounds healthy to me.
Eric Bergstrom January 31, 2014 at 04:07 PM
Here is a video clip of her dressed in her Goth attire explaining why she thinks Patch stands a chance: http://youtu.be/zKhEw7nD9C4 "Merely a Flesh Wound." "Tis but a Scratch!"
Donna Fleming February 01, 2014 at 01:15 AM
Eric... That was a long winded way of saying I got layed off and I am angry. Followed by it is all Penny's fault. If you want to write long opinion pieces, just stick a title on it. MY TURN, jam it all together and bore us with your bla bla bla. But, if you want to practice journalism remember the key element is NEWS. -that is of Public interest, Truth and accuracy, Verification, Fairness, Distinguishing fact and comment, Accountability, Independence, Transparency, Restraint and Originality. Good luck to you Eric.
Panglonymous February 01, 2014 at 01:03 PM
Shirley Dicktor February 01, 2014 at 05:29 PM
Yes, Eric has a strange way of accepting his LAY-OFF. Oddly I find it strange that anyone is upset, the writing has been on the wall for a long, long time. It came down to most of the articles being copied from City News Service, what kind of journalism is that? It truly became obvious AOL was going to use all of the grant money for wages to people that were hiding under rocks & did not move to better places as things became more rocky over time. For all of you that are bitter over getting laid off you only have yourselves to blame. Can't imagine what magical thing they have promised Penny at this point.


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