Locally sourced community news is increasingly becoming more popular, but AOL owned Patch has announced plans to take hyperlocal reporting one step further by creating a national brand.
Already present in 100 communities, Patch plans to quintuple this number by year's end. "We believe that every town in American should have a Patch ultimately," President Warren Webster informed guardian.co.uk. When asked whether this will not be difficult considering some towns already have local news sites, he replied that Patch has actually done better in towns with existing competition. The new towns will be selected based in part on an algorithm of factors such as household income and local high school rankings.
Is going national necessarily a positive thing? Webster told guardian.co.uk that scale is important since it increases revenue opportunities and enhances the brand. Ken Doctor of newsonomics thinks differently about whether hyperlocal works any better by being bigger. "In the main, though," he writes, "the hard work of gathering local news and selling local merchants isn't greatly helped by the national brand."
Another interesting aspect of the expansion is the job opportunities which will come with it, at least 500 more reporters will be needed in 20 states. The AOL Release discloses that "Patch expects to be the largest hirer of full-time journalists in the U.S. this year." Regarding stories of poor working conditions of Patch staff, Webster reminded guardian.co.uk that about 75% of its reporters make more money than they did at their old jobs.
Starbucks has also announced plans to go hyperlocal with a new 'my neighborhood' channel available on its free internet access. Not surprisingly, Patch appears on the list of news sites the channel plans to work with. Can hyperlocal go national and retain its "local" flavor at the same time??