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Patch: Building an Online Community, One Voice at a Time

Patch.com columnist Christine Wolf shares how hyperlocal news connects her to her community.

Like many dedicated Patch contributors, Christine Wolf has seen Patch through waves of change.

As we work to build a platform that best serves our users, a huge part of what keeps readers coming back is the connection they find with their communities. 

We’re home to a diverse group of voices and offer a space for meaningful conversation from local, regional and national perspectives. In a nutshell: Patch is a gathering place to learn, ask and engage.

For Christine, writing for Patch is an experience that’s taught her the incredible power of community voices.

In her most recent post, Christine reflects on the last several years and expresses hopes for Patch moving forward.

From a column she wrote on the tragic shooting of a local high school freshman to installments about good-deed-doers, new businesses, schools, traffic problems, Christmas lights, off-leash dogs, homeless vets and the local university, her posts resonated with fellow readers.

“[Patch] encouraged me to widen my path, meet more people, and learn skills I wouldn’t have otherwise,” she writes. “I’ll always carry a heightened sense of community because I was a journalist for Patch.”

To read Christine’s entire column, click here. If you’d like to start a blog of your own, head to your hometown site and click “start a blog.” Questions? Email moderation@patch.com

Reader February 16, 2014 at 10:53 PM
@Christopher The question isn't so easily asked. Each Patch has a different profile - serves a different size population, has a wide range of unique visitors and page views, has a different sized advertising base (or none at all). So the sub fee per user that would pay for a reporter in one community might not come close to paying for a reporter in another. That's one of the many reasons why hyperlocal is hard - every community is different. Would Patch users really put up with different subs fees for different Patches? Wouldn't people complain that they were paying more than users a few towns over? And then there is the problem that a paywall would cut traffic and therefore regional and national advertising revenue. Subs would have to be high enough to offset that loss as well - prohibitively so in most cases.
christopher papazoglow February 16, 2014 at 11:26 PM
@Reader...some of your argument sounds reasonable, on the surface. But is ANY of it reason enough to not even EXPLORE the idea, to NOT make any attempt to get real numbers data from the readers ?
Bryan Bentley February 16, 2014 at 11:58 PM
I feel compelled to say a few words on behalf of Patch. I expressed some of my criticisms when the big change came. I was approached by a Patch employee, and we had a back and forth, and I walked away thinking that maybe it would be worth it to continue to blog, and maybe even ,make an effort at providing some content as well. I am doing this because it is the best platform for me to write blogs,m which is a fun hobby for me. I can tell you without reservation that Patch has helped me every step of the way in learning how to reach as many local people as possible. I am no tech expert. I am no journalist. But with the help of Tara at Patch, I am learning quickly, and having a blast. I have met a few new friends locally, and am grateful for the help. I gave Patch a chance, and they rewarded that loyalty with all the help I need, and the result is that the Plymouth-Canton Patch Facebook page is actually growing in followers and "likes." I haven't followed the conversation on this thread too carefully, but I wanted to share that. Now I am realistic enough to know that it could all go away tomorrow, and that is fine, but for now, I am going to enjoy myself, and try to grow the numbers. I am going by the premise that if I am not going to be part of the solution, then I am just part of the problem. :)
Bren February 17, 2014 at 12:15 AM
Bryan Bentley, I assume you're not getting paid for the content you provide? There's nothing wrong with that if the personal fulfillment you derive from this relationship is payment enough, in your mind. But what we've seen is a major downsizing in which tons of paid writers and editors were eliminated, and your willingness to provide content for free only takes away whatever incentive Patch might have to hire and pay new writers. Obviously, it's an apples and oranges comparison on some level, because a blogger is not the same thing as a news reporter, but still... I don't know. I looked to Patch for local news, and people blogging for personal fulfillment can't exactly fill the void that was left when the local news reporters and editors were laid off.
christopher papazoglow February 18, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Personally, @Reader and @Patch, i thnk THE way to assess whether readers "will go for it" (paying for subscription) is ASK them and see what THEY have to say. It's all fine and good that business professionals have weighed in with analysis, in the comments here and elsewhere. But take a minute to go back and reread this article. What worked for the local Patch that i paid the most attention to was a reporter/editor who covered pretty much ALL the local issues (city council, planning, waterfront, police and fire, transportation alerts, other genuinely local issues), and did his best to provide balance and detail. He was let go, along with several others in the area, and now that Patch along with 19 others is "edited" by ONE person who hardly ever posts ANYTHING, and whom is certainly in not able to cover the events/issues of 20 + seperate local communities. During thise time since the mass firing, one city council meeting has occured, which was summarized by a local blogger. And the "local" editor has republished a few "regional" articles from other news sources and a couple of alerts which were published too late to be of significance. Local bloggers have provided SOME content, but thus far there is little effort to cover any of the ground that the fired editor did. So ASK the readers "Would be willing to pay a subscription price in order to have local coverage restored ?"

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