Hundreds of editors at hyperlocal news website Patch.com were laid off Wednesday in the bloodiest day of job cuts for the 8-year-old venture launched by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, according to reports.
The massive layoffs also claimed several local Patch journalists, many of whom were charged with running multiple community sites. The development followed a string of earlier Patch layoffs and left many wondering how effective the remaining skeleton crew will be moving forward. Out of the more than 30 editors running 40-plus Patch sites serving Long Island, only four still had active editors profiles by the end of Wednesday.
“All good things must come to an end… Today will be my last day as your humble correspondent and editor for Patch,” Geoffrey Walter, the editor of Patch sites dedicated to covering Mineola and New Hyde Park, said in a post online.
Patch reportedly has 900 websites dedicated to covering local news in 20 states and Washington, D.C. The latest layoffs come two weeks after AOL unloaded majority control of the embattled news site to investment firm Hale Global.
“Layoffs at Patch.com a serious blow to Long Island community news,” tweeted Jaci Clement, executive director of the Bethpage-based Fair Media Council, a nonprofit media watchdog group.
Walter, who had been with the company for four years, launched the Mineola Patch site in the summer of 2010 and two years later was entrusted with New Hyde Park Patch. Mike Sorrentino, the editor of the Sachem and Patchogue Patch sites, also thanked readers for their support in a tweet announcing that Wednesday would be his final day on the job. And on the East End, Taylor Vecsey, who edited both Southampton and East Hampton sites for Patch, tweeted a goodbye note to readers.
Adina Genn, who edited the Port Washington edition, bid farewell to her readers on her Facebook page.
“The ties we’ve formed, both at Patch and in our communities, are something I will always treasure,” she wrote. “And the skills we’ve developed and relationships we’ve formed only make us stronger. Here’s to the next adventure!”
Media reporter Jim Romenesko quoted an unnamed source who put the number of layoffs at “80 to 90 percent.”
Romenesko also released an audio clip from Patch COO Leigh Zarelli Lewis’ conference call with staffers placed on the chopping block.
“Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of the venture with Hale Global, Hale Global has decided which Patch employees will receive an offer to move forward in accordance with their vision for Patch and which will not,” she said. “Unfortunately, your role has been eliminated and you will no longer have a role at Patch and today will be your last day of employment with the company.”
The editor-less Patch sites will remain active, according to Business Insider, and will eventually become aggregate news sites.
The LI regional editor for Patch, Henry Powderly, posted that he has been asked to stay on.
-With Timothy Bolger