Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From Big Cheese to small potatoes

A pumpkin stem.Image via Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, Tom Troncone was night editor of The Record of Woodland Park. Now, he is an editor at AOL Patch -- the local news site -- posting a photo of pumpkins with a story on a pumpkin patch on Ridgewood Patch.

All those patches confusing you? What does Patch mean, anyway? Patched up? Patched together? Pumpkin patch? Turf? Territory? Your guess is as good as mine. It just seems like small potatoes.

This is a link to the story about Ridgewood's only pumpkin patch. It's chatty, but not well-edited.

Pumkin patch on Ridhewood Patch

The first paragraph notes there is no hay ride, but there are plans for one next year. Later, we read this:

"There's no muss, no fuss, no expensive farm markets or rip off expensive hayrides."
 A little off-message, don't you think? 

Patch is covering only four towns in Bergen County now, and hardly represents a threat to The Record, even though local coverage in the paper is, well, patchy.
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  1. I might point out that Patch is probably a reference to the feature story on a section, the one which, at the Record, usually has a border and ragged type and a big picture and sometimes an overline. Like the "A-1 Patch" or the "Business Patch." Now now, let's not say "or the briar patch." But I suspect it was some big shot's way of illustrating his savvy of the newspaper business when he called the project "Patch."

  2. Aw, that pumpkin story is kinda cute.

  3. Honestly, though, the way the Record's local coverage is going, and the way their site is designed and operates (poorly), Patch could be a threat at some point. I've seen some job advertisements from them (hell, who wouldn't want to get out from under The Record/NJMG?) and they don't exactly highlight the importance of traditional journalism skills. Not quite like Bleacher Report (which allows anyone to "write" articles or opinion pieces on sports subjects, with the potential to move up and have your work featured on partner sites), but not exactly a one-stop place for local news.

    Not every town has a sky-high crime rate or has public officials under scrutiny, though. This seems a little more enterprise or small-minded at the moment. Which may be good for people begging for coverage of their town.

  4. Of course, I'm familiar with the patch, as used at The Record. I wrote many of them as a reporter and edited many more.

    But I didn't think AOL would use such an inside term to name its local news site. The reader isn't able to relate to the word. What is "Patch" supposed to conjure up?

  5. I received a third comment, sent at 1:04 a.m. today, but cannot open the e-mail. I have been having a lot of trouble with Hotmail for close to a month now, and can open some e-mails and not others. If you do not see your comment here, please resend.

  6. Actually, as anonymous pointed out, Patch may be an "insider" term but that gives it double entendre status, since it aims to identify aol as a purveyor of "local" news. Say, for instance, you stepped on a beehive and wound up getting stung in a dozen different places. Each bee bite would then be covered by a little round band-aid, or, as it were, a patch. Now, if you took a google earth map of the USA and drew a little circle around all of the locations where aol has its team of local troncones, so to speak, all of those little circles would be patches. Hence, local coverage patches/feature story patches. Pretty clever, huh? I don't know if I could have thought of that myself.

  7. So it's sort of a patchwork quilt of local news ....


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