For years, AOL has tried to turn its hyperlocal news product Patch into a must-read destination for towns and neighborhoods. But a combination of corporate mishandling and inability to actually go after on-the-ground readers, many of whom don’t regularly read newspapers online, has stunted growth. Now things have finally come to a head: By all accounts, AOL is gearing up to lay off hundreds of Patch reporters and shutter scores of sites next week.
Poynter reports AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Patch editors there would be no layoffs announced on Friday, August 9–as previously expected. Instead, AOL will formally announce the layoffs on a rolling basis next week; Armstrong referred to the layoffs as “impacts” to Patch employees. The “impacts” will effect 400 of Patch’s 900 local sites; these sites will either be shuttered or handed over to as-of-yet-unnamed local partners.
That isn’t the only bad news for Patch: AOL would not comment on rumors that Patch CEO Steve Kalin and content head Rachel Feddersen are leaving the company. Kalin has only been with Patch for two months at this point.