AOL Dumps Patch, All Westside Editors Fired
By Stephen Hadland
Culver City Observer Publisher
After suffering enormous losses reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars in the hyperlocal news market AOL has apparently dumped PATCH into a new company controlled by Hale Global.
Hale Global becomes the new majority owner of AOL's Patch local news websites and fired the all of the editors covering the Westside.
Westside Patch consisted of 11 websites managed by four editors, including the Culver City Patch and Santa Monica Patch.
They include; Kelly Hartog, editor of Santa Monica Patch, Venice-Mar Vista Patch, and Culver City Patch; Diana Swartz, editor of Pacific Palisades Patch and Malibu Patch; Craig Clough, editor of West Hollywood Patch, Hollywood Patch, Brentwood Patch, Marina del Rey Patch, and Westwood-Century City Patch; and Matthew Sanderson, editor of Beverly Hills Patch.
Each of their online Patch profiles have already been deleted.
Fox Business News reported that most of the journalists from its 900 hyperlocal sites were terminated, along with many of Patch's corporate employees.
Media blogger Jim Romenesko obtained an audio copy of a conference call Patch's chief operating officer, Leigh Zarelli Lewis had with selected employees at 10 am Wednesday.
"Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of the joint venture with Hale Global," Lewis said on the conference call. "Hale Global has decided which Patch employees will receive an offer of employment to move forward in accordance with their vision for Patch and which will not. 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."
Toward the end of the conference call, Lewis said their email accounts would be disabled at 5 pm Wednesday before concluding the call saying, "Thank you again and best of luck."
Santa Monica Patch editor Kelly Hartog confirmed her dismissal at about 7:30 pm Wednesday on Santa Monica Patch's Facebook page.
"Dear Santa Monica Patch readers," she wrote. "I was among the mass layoffs at Patch today. It's been an honor working for Patch over the past 3.5 years."
Local Patch sites have been gutted of content. The Culver City site contains only one local story from the City News Service Wire.
Patch eliminated local sports over a year ago. The sports editor, who came from the Palisades Post to oversee the sports operations for the Westside Patch sites, was laid off previously and was not replaced.