Commentary from Byrdseyeblog.com
About a week ago, AOL began dismantling Patch.com and laid off its journalists who had been planted in communities (patches) all over the country. I cannot let SCPatch disappear into the ethernet without a proper farewell.
I began teaming up with them on projects because I was interested in seeing an exclusively online presence rooted locally that created new and needed reporting, especially in areas with diminishing coverage.
Perhaps the business model was flawed, but the idea had promise.
The good news is that the folks I worked with at SCPatch are landing on their feet; they are resourceful, talented and ethical. That is not the worrisome part.
It is disappointing that we in the news don’t often do stories about the demise of our competitors. Not because we have better manners than to gloat, but because it hits too close to home.
It’s a tough business. It’s especially tough because it’s a business.
At the same time, we have no problem getting caught up in covering the “My city is better than your city” editorial spat between two newspapers.
With every new legislative year, fewer reporters gaggle at the Statehouse. Granted, Patch reporters were not allowed in House and Senate chambers like other news outlets (mainly because of fear of Fits News and of other hard-to-categorize formats).
When I was a younger reporter, there were at least 20 beat reporters there daily. Now there are a few regulars.
But we are better because of the competition. We are better for the camaraderie and constructive criticism we offer each other (like: “a little heavy on the alliteration today, eh Byrd?”) We build upon the work of each other.
As longstanding media wrestle with staying relevant in a mobile-driven, social media, 140-character marketplace, a new approach challenges and annoys its competitors. Bravo.
Thank you SCPatch, SCPatchPolitics and your local editors.
Sure, I’ll take from your good ideas. You bet I will.