Writers Wanted – Don’t Even Think About Being Paid (will the huffington business model work for patch?)

Arianna Huffington - Photo: World Economic Forum/wiki commons

Arianna Huffington /Editorial Boss at AOL’s “Patch.com” 

For me writing isn’t optional.  After some 40 years in and around journalism, I need a regular fix.  Not everybody shares my need.  For some, maybe for most, writing is work, plain and simple.  Something they must force themselves to sit down and grind out.  Consequently, I’m not really sure the new blogging feature on “Patch” websites will survive.

I check in with my local patches, now and then.  Two, are edited by friends.  Saul Daniels, formerly with the Los Angeles Times, is handling things at the Chatsworth Patch.  Doug Kriegel, formerly a reporter with KNBC-TV, is editing the Sherman Oaks Patch.   As advertised, they are “hyper-local.”   Both are interesting reading, if “hyper-local” is what you’re looking for.  They are also looking for bloggers who are willing to write for free.  Just like the Huffington Post, which Arianna Huffington recently sold to AOL for $315 million.   And now AOL,  is apparently trying to do the same thing with Patch.

It’s being reported that Patch is looking to sign up as many as 8000 bloggers.   For free.  Huffington did it once, at the HuffPost.  Now she’s overseeing editorial at AOL and obviously, she’s trying to do it again.  She calls it, “A merger of visions.”  I wonder if she can?  She must be working awfully hard, because she’s pretty much dropped off the talk-show radar since going over to AOL — and that’s a spot she used to love.

Setting up one website by asking your mostly progressive celebrity friends to blog for you is one thing.  Getting more than 800 local news websites up and running (and profitable) is another issue altogether.

Are there enough out-of-work but qualified journalists out there to provide Arianna with what she needs to fill all the slots at her more than 800 Patch websites?  Writers who write well enough and are interesting enough to attract a readership?  People who are willing to give their intellectual product away just to get back in the saddle?  And if they are, how long will their generosity last?

Ms. Huffington after all , didn’t give away the Huffington Post.

There is also a valid question regarding the future of professional journalism and whether one day, in the not too distant future, it will be all but impossible to distinguish between professional and “citizen” journalism.  I used to think that eventually it would all shake out for the best.   I’m no longer sure.  As with other products, eventually we’re gonna get what we pay for…

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