Ken Doctor on AOL Patch’s Leg Up on Newspapers. Hint: It Ain’t Better Coverage

By: Ken Doctor

AOL’s Patch is ambitiously adding websites, lately going after MediaNews territory in the East Bay of the Bay Area — San Ramon Danville, Walnut Creek and Pleasanton — and penetrating SoCal, from Fairfax and West Hollywood to Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Hundreds of local reporters are being hired as hundreds of new sites are being replicated from California to Illinois to Maryland to Rhode Island, joining the early sites in Connecticut and New Jersey.

On Thursday, San Ramon saw a big breaking news story, of a 24-year-old menacing police outside a 7-11. They shot and killed him, after a standoff. Take a look at the coverage and you can see that the Contra Costa Times’ story has more depth, background and nuance. Patch’s story is straightforward, but lacking in those same qualities. That quick comparison may be typical for how a newspaper responds to the big, breaking story — one of unusual suburban daily drama — as compared to AOL’s user-gen start-up.

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