The Constant Gardener

My two years tending AOL’s hyperlocal experiment—Patch.
  1. My employment with Patch started with a handshake and a promise that I would be called with a job offer in the next few days. I had met with Patch’s editor in chief, Brian Farnham, at the company’s New York headquarters. This was in late October 2009, just a few months after AOL acquired the nascent hyperlocal platform for $7 million. In less than a week, I was hired to build and manage the Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow Patch, covering a pair of Hudson River towns north of New York City.

    I was one of about two dozen journalists Patch hired in the fourth quarter of that year, entrusted to replicate an online local news model that had been launched in New Jersey communities like Maplewood, Millburn, and Short Hills, suburbs on the outskirts of Newark. An end-of-year push would establish Patch in New York’s Long Island and Westchester communities, too, and further expand its coverage in New Jersey and Connecticut. At the time, AOL itself was in the process of spinning off from Time Warner, a...

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