AOL?s Patch Launches 100th Site

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By: E&P Staff

AOL’s hyperlocal news initiative launched its 100th site Tuesday in Morristown, N.J., a community covered by a local daily and the state’s largest newspaper.

In making the announcement, AOL said it “plans to expand rapidly to more than 500 U.S. neighborhoods in 20 states by the end of 2010.”

“Additionally, with over 500 journalists still to be hired, Patch expects to be the largest hirer of full-time journalists in the U.S. this year,” AOL said.

Patch sites are now in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia. AOL said by the end of the year it expects to launch Patch sites in more than a dozen new states including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

Patch sites are run by one professional local editor, who also reports and records video, with freelance contributors.

“Today’s launch of our 100th site is a significant milestone for us. We began with just three Patch communities in February 2009, and have since made incredible progress toward fulfilling our core mission of providing comprehensive information and trusted, professional news coverage to towns and communities,” said Patch Media President Warren Webster said in a statement. “We believe Patch is a revolutionary and efficient approach to producing relevant, quality local journalism at scale, and we couldn’t be more excited about expanding into hundreds of new communities across America this year.”

Patch sites are already up and running in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia. The 2010 expansion includes plans to extend Patch’s reach into more than a dozen new states including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

In a press release Patch announced the following recent hires:

Patch has completed its hiring of senior editorial field management with four regionally based Editorial Directors. They report to Brian Farnham, Patch’s Editor-in-Chief.

— Marcia Parker (San Ramon, California), Editorial Director of the West Coast Region, joins Patch from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Assistant Dean for six years. She is the founding Editor-in-Chief, of Tri Valley Magazine, former Director of Programming at AOL Small Business, and has worked at Crain’s New York Business, United Press International and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

— Tim Windsor (Baltimore, Maryland), Editorial Director of the South Region, joins Patch from Johns Hopkins University, where he was Director of Digital Strategy. He is the former Vice President and General Manager of Baltimore Sun Interactive.

— Anthony Duignan-Cabrera (Colts Neck, New Jersey), Editorial Director of the Northeast Region, joins Patch from CNNgo.com, where he was Editorial Director, charged with developing and driving the content strategy of CNN’s travel/culture/entertainment portal for the Southeast Asian region. He previously worked at Imaginova, ABC News and People magazine.

— Sherry Skalko (Chicago, Illinois), Editorial Director of the Midwest Region, joins Patch from the Online News Association, where she served in several capacities, including training, membership, and development, and as editor of Journalists.org. She previously worked as an editor and content strategist at Tribune Interactive, SunSentinel.com and ESPN.com.

Additionally, Patch has recently hired 52 Regional Editors across 13 states.

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