The South Orange Patch was passing quite unnoticed until a couple of days ago was revealed as property of Google executive Tim Armstrong. This connection stirred the hearts and minds of those who have been asking Google to back journalism ventures, and this seems to be the spearhead of the company’s effort to develop a network of local media digital outlets.
So far the project is restricted to three suburban areas in New Jersey, but the goal is to present a project commercially viable in local markets, from which big companies are stepping out. With the heavy financing from Google this may actually happen.
Looking at it, i enjoyed the layout and especially the Twitter feed on top right corner. I don’t know why, but i felt closer to the people who make the Patch.
O South Orange Patch estava a passar despercebido até há uns dias atrás quando foi revelado que era um investimento do executivo da Google Tim Armstrong. Esta ligação agitou os defensores de que o Goggle devia apoiar projectos jornalísticos, e isto parece ser um avanço nos planos da empresa em desenvolver uma rede de jornais locais digitais.
Até agora o projecto restringe-se a três áreas suburbanas na Nova Jérsia, mas o objectivo é apresentar um projecto comercialmente viável para mercados locais, de onde as grandes empresas de comunicação se estão a afastar. Com os grandes fundos de que o Google dispõe isto pode bem tornar-se realidade.
Olhando para o site, gostei da disposição, em especial do feed do Twitter no canto superior direito. Não sei porquê mas senti-me mais próximo das pessoas que fazem o Patch.
Patch, which has 20 employees and a plan to hire one journalist in every town it expands to, is now available only in 3 towns in New Jersey: Maplewood, Milburn and South Orange.
Gawker wonders whether Patch could be a Trojan horse for Google to get into the local news business? While it’s unlikely there are explicit plans, the lessons learned by Armstrong and Patch will naturally make their way into the thinking in Google’s local products group. (It’s a larger scale of what MSNBC’s Cory Bergman is doing with his independent newsblog MyBallard.)
Phil Meyer, my former professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Jeff Jarvis are on the editorial advisory board, so the New York City-based team is getting good advice. (More information and players here.)
Will this save journalism? A form of it, perhaps. The big-city dailies have been retrenching from the suburbs for years. But Patch is hiring one journalist per town, to cover local news with a heavy emphasis on charities. That’s exactly the kind of starter journalism job desperate grads take straight our of J-school, and work like heck to escape as fast as they can. The difference, in this Google-funded scenario, is that there won’t be anywhere else to go from there.
And why is Google letting Armstrong freelance as a startup investor? Google’s compliance cops have already greenlighted his investment in Associated Content, an ostensibly independent startup which lives off Google ads. Perhaps it’s because his startup experiments may well help his employer.
Could Patch be a Trojan horse for Google to get into the local news business?