Friday, August 9, 2013

To Be, or Not to Be: Patch

Columbia Patch on Facebook, Thursday, August 7th:

If this guy did what police say, it's obviously horrible for the kids. But think about this: How many well-meaning adults are reluctant to have anything to do with mentoring kids because of charges like these? /todd

And the comments:

Julia Jackson McCready:  I am not sure that I would have added any editorial comment to this one.

MMS:  What kind of comment is this?

MMS:  Not you Julia... Todd... The thinking here is "off".

LLP:  I agree with the above comments! Distasteful, cavalier words.

ML:  Also, does every story have to be about northern Virginia here? I feel like this has become nova patch.

KGP:  I made similar comments to the EC Patch link.

KGP:  I find your presentation of this story, and editorial questioning, in poor taste at best, and offensive at worst. This young lady is not responsible for the reluctance of adults to mentor young people, the alleged perpetrator is a sick individual and a full investigation is due the alleged victim and society without questioning the veracity of the story by the media.

Julia Jackson McCready I'm glad I wasn't the only one who felt this way.

Todd Richissin, Patch:  Thanks, guys. Sorry if the post was less than artfully worded. My point is that there are adults who would like to do great things with great kids but are reluctant to because these kinds of cases can affect how they're viewed. Trust me: I have no sympathy for ANYBODY who harms a child. My point is, not only is there harm to the kids directly affected, but all of society suffers from people who would prey on kids. todd

KGP:  Please remove this and repost it more appropriately (i.e. with no editorializing)

JW:  So you are making the argument that people don't mentor because they think they might be suspected of being in possession of child pornography or of sexually exploiting a 12-year-old? I think you are making an incredible leap. Part of this tragedy is that people's trust was violated. That doesn't mean people stop trusting. Facebook makes it easy to remove a post; I recommend you remove this one.

SB:  Well meaning adults don't sleep with the kids they are mentoring. Your comment implies that he might be set-up. Very poor taste.

SMK: The problem isn't that people bring 'charges like these', the problem is that crimes like this are committed. Shame on you.

First question, who is Todd, and what did he study in school?

Second question, what is going on with Patch?  There have been a slew of articles this week, predicting big layoffs for Friday. (Today) scanning through the list on Twitter, I smiled when I saw this:

@HoCoBlogs: Wishing our #HoCoMD Patch editors the best! AOL To ‘Impact’ Hundreds Of Patch Employees Friday

HoCoBlogs has had a relatively friendly relationship with our local Patch sites and editors. As you know, I started this blog at the encouragement of David Greisman when he was with Columbia Patch. I've written more about this here. At the beginning, it felt as though we were finally going to get the kind of hyper-local news coverage we had been craving in Columbia and Howard County.

Over time, though, there have been plenty of bumps in the road: high turnover of personnel, articles and Facebook threads designed to inflame and produce more clicks/comment wars than to provide information. Less local coverage, and with the format change, less room for any significant content.

I found the following comments on online articles intriguing:

"The original Local Editors were the trained journalists who had lost jobs at print news in 2009. After a year of setting up the local Patch, most realized they could not continue the demanding 18 hour, seven days a week. When the economy improved, it was time to get a more sane job, so they moved on, being replaced by cheaper, less experienced employees. No wonder many of the Patch outlets are failing."

(Ann Wisniewski, commenting on

"Patch actually pays (or paid) some of the highest entry-level journalism salaries around. That could be part of their financial problem, but they were indeed attracting extremely talented young journalists during a time when no one else was hiring. Asking those journalists to be content managers, calendar editors, reporters, copy editors and managing editors is what I think led to content with diminished quality.

(Claire Hanan, commenting on

We are losing newspapers almost daily, it seems.  And yet we need news. We need talented, professional journalists to shed light on the world for us: local, regional, national, international. Although the business models founder, the need for news does not diminish.

I think it is safe to say that I have been rooting for Patch, wanting to see people like David, Brandi, Elizabeth, Lisa, Marge, Brian and AJ succeed in connecting with Columbia and Howard County in a way that was mutually beneficial. After reading a variety of articles pertaining to AOL's business model for Patch, it is clear that my understanding was a limited one.

Already today I am seeing conflicting reports on whether today will hold layoffs and closures or different options for failing Patch sites and editors. To our local Patchsters: thanks, hang in there, and in the future--better luck.

And to Todd: some articles don't need a personal opinion. Trust me on this.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.