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AOL, Patch Declare War on Newspapers in California

Staff Report

American On-Line, the owner of the controversial local internet websites known as “The Patch” have declared an all-out assault on print newspapers in California by sponsoring legislation that would threaten the system of printed public notices of meetings at city halls, school districts, water districts, county halls of administration and other public agencies.

The legislation is also being championed by Lakewood Assemblyman Anthony Rendon who received several large checks from AOL for his recent election campaign.

Assembly Bill 642 would allow internet only entities to become a “newspaper of general circulation” and publish public notices, and it could come before Sacramento lawmakers as early as March 23.

“The criteria used to establish an internet-only entity to be the official newspaper for a community is so weak it would allow any blogger or hobbyist with a laptop, tablet or smart phone to qualify,” said Brian Hews, Publisher and Owner of Los Cerritos Community Newspaper and the La Mirada Lamplighter.

“AB 642 requires no brick-and-mortar presence, no business office, and therefore, likely no local publisher, editors, reporters, local ad staff, production and circulation staff. A single regional editor aggregating content from the worldwide web and rewriting news credited at great expense by real newspapers would qualify,” Hews said.

Hews has been a newspaper publisher since 1994 and has been in the business more than 30 years.

“AB 642 would allow the adjudication of a petri dish,” Hews said. “This will kill some great local newspapers.”

“Deflecting rumors American On-Line was going to pull the plug on The Patch or at least recreate it to operate without humans, they have admitted it continues to be experimental with local Patch sites,” Hews said.

An AOL spokesman recently admitted that “we test different models in an effort to best serve our existing communities and our future ones.”

Locally published Patch websites in Cerritos and several other surrounding communities throughout Southern California are considered by many in the newspaper publishing profession to be “heavily influenced by local elected politicians and government officials who are in search of fluffy, nonobjective content,” Hews said.

Los Cerritos Community Newspaper is currently being considered for two Pulitzer Prize Awards in the categories of Investigative Series and Public Affairs Reporting for their highly touted investigation into alleged criminal activities deep inside the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration and Assessor’s Office.

“Internet-only publications, especially The Patch are undependable, have no permanency, are subject to constant change and susceptible to technology failure. Internet connections fall, server’s crash, links die and websites are hacked all the time,” Hews said.

“One thing we have proven here at Los Cerritos Community Newspaper and the La Mirada Lamplighter is that community newspapers have never been so strong, independent from government influence and has put elected officials and politicians on their toes,” Hews said.

Hews has reached out to Assemblyman Rendon with a phone call to his office on Thursday, March 14.

“We endorsed and urged our readers to support the election of Assemblyman Rendon in 2012, and we look forward to meeting with him sometime over the next week,” Hews added.

Los Cerritos Community Newspaper and the La Mirada Lamplighter is delivered to 45,000 homes each Friday, and has an internet readership of more than 100,000 to 150,000 readers each month.

READ MORE:

Local Editor-Patch Model Will Not Work

Life After Patch-Local Editor Goes Back to Newsprint

 

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I am roomates with a current Patch employee and agree completely that this it’s no longer journalism when an editor is rated by unique visitors and “Likes” on Facebook. And from what I understand, the guy they brought in last years to lead sales is a real ball-buster who isn’t seeing much success.

Randy R. Economy
Guest

We appreciate you comments and insight into “the Patch” and agree with your comments.
Randy Economy
On-Line Editor
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper

Smitty
Guest

Who introduced Assembly Bill 642 from what voter district?

I think CA needs a bill precluding monopoly service providers (like phone companies, cable companies, cellular companies) from padding their customer bills to support crony media propaganda-like “the patch”.

I think CA needs referendum preventing local govt from limiting cable , internet, phone and airwave company competition.

PatchEx
Guest

Dude. You need a copy editor. Really.

Randy Drilingas
Guest
Ah the Internet. So when the law is made that you can’t just steal other peoples content to make money off it, where will these aggregators be? It’s already pretty easy to track who is stealing what content but since there is no law to make it illegal, it’s not worth looking into. But with the proper laws in place, the aggregator sites will either be forced to do actual work, or pay to use it. It’s the same thing people have been saying for years but everyone screams murder if they can’t get everything for free. Oooo the regulation… Read more »
From Business Insider
Guest
AOL seems to be radically changing its plans for Patch, it’s network of local news sites. We’ve heard from insiders that the division is pivoting away from a human editor centric model, toward one where local sites (“Patches”) are built to be content-sharing and community-organizing tools for their areas. Editors won’t go away entirely, but there will be fewer of them, writing for more sites. The contraction of human resources is not going unnoticed. Former Patch editors keeping track of their old employer have begun emailing us about it. One says: Looks like AOL Patch is continuing to cut editors.… Read more »
Ex Patch Editor
Guest
Ever since Tim Armstrong took over AOL to “save” the news business, there’s been apocalyptic sign after apocalyptic sign that the slick Google ad exec simply had no idea what journalists, readers and even the most cynical, profiteering media moguls held sacred about this industry. There was the “AOL Way” memo, which told all media properties to prize page views and volume and steer away from actual breaking news (no one knows how to search for something they haven’t read!). It held up headlines like “Lady Gaga Pantsless in Paris” as the gold standard for their ability to leverage SEO… Read more »
FLF
Guest

I stopped even glancing at any “Patch” years ago.. they were/are so hard left wing and LIBERALLY biased it was nauseating to even read any of them! And if you made a reply even remotely conservative to challenge their highly suspect rhetoric, the low info and uneducated retards came out of the woodwork to try and do major character assassination on you.. It was a waste of time to do battle with them anymore..