Update: All N.H. Patch sites in operation, two editors out
But buyers or partners are being sought for two sites
Contrary to previous reports, all Patch online news sites in New Hampshire are still in operation, but at least two employees are no longer with the company, and a source says that two of the sites are up for sale.
Still, it’s too early to weigh the entire impact of the cutbacks in New Hampshire, since the process is ongoing.
Tim Armstrong of AOL – which owns the Patch sites – had said that some 300 to 400 of the 900 hyperlocal news sites were underperforming, and on Aug. 16 the company announced it would shut down or consolidate 150 of them and try to find partners for others. Such a move would result in laying off as many as half of the firm’s 1,000 workers in the process. Some 350 Patch employees were reportedly laid off on Aug. 16.
The company has yet to disclose which sites will be targeted, and emails from NHBR have not been returned. But a survey of the dozen New Hampshire sites indicate that all were up and running on Tuesday.
However, former regional editor Dan Tuohy was not posting new stories, and his LinkedIn page was changed recently to indicate that his experience at Patch ended “August 2013.” The former Union Leader reporter now lists himself as a freelance writer.
Robert Michaelson, who was editor of the Patch sites in Amherst and Milford, posted on the Amherst Patch Facebook page on Aug. 17: "Hi everybody. I am no longer the Editor at Amherst/Milford Patch. … Stay thirsty (for news) my friends."
Carolyn Dube, editor of Merrimack Patch, posted on its Facebook wall on Aug. 19 that she would become the editor for Amherst Patch. "Hey Merrimack, just a quick update. As of today, I am taking over Amherst Patch in addition to Merrimack," she wrote.
Dube also wrote that Michael Ryan, a Patch editor since 2011, would be taking over as editor of the Milford Patch.
Ryan O'Connor, editor of Bedford Patch, wrote on the Windham Patch Facebook wall that he would be taking over as its editor, and "will continue to serve as Bedford Patch editor as well."
Michaelson declined comment. Tuohy did not respond to messages for comment.
One Patch employee said that most of the smaller sites will be consolidated, meaning one editor will be handling two sites. The employee also said Patch is looking for buyers or partners for two sites – Milford and Londonderry – but all the sites will stay open until further notice.
Armstrong founded Patch in 2007, and AOL acquired the company for $7 million in 2009. It promptly pumped $70 million into the sites the following year, hiring journalists, many of whom had been laid off by the traditional print media. Media reports and analysts say that AOL invested some $180 million into the venture altogether.
But AOL cut $26 million in spending on Patch last year, and Armstrong promised the company’s investors that it would continue to slash spending until the company became profitable, though Armstrong said he remained fully committed to the project.