Tags: patch | media | layoffs | aol

Hyper-Local Patch Lays off 90 Percent of Staff

Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 09:03 PM

By Cathy Burke

Hundreds of staffers were laid off via conference call Wednesday at the struggling hyper-local news site Patch, two reports said.

Mediate reports estimates of the layoffs were as high as 90 percent of the staff.

Media blogger Jim Romenesko wrote the editorial staff purge was executed by brand-new Patch owner Hale Global, which purchased the site from AOL Jan. 15.

In an excerpt of the conference call reprinted by Romenesko, the 10 a.m. brush-off was delivered by Patch chief operating officer Leigh Zarelli Lewis.

"Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of the joint venture with Hale Global," the excerpt said. "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. …Thank you again and best of luck.

"Technically, we were laid off by AOL," a former editor emailed Romenesko. "I presume that was a condition set by Hale. Second, I have it on good authority the layoffs were 80 to 90 percent of Patchers."

Another noted:

"I was hired in 2010, survived two rounds of layoffs but not the third. I was told middle managers in editorial were on a call earlier this week and being asked about which local editors are worthy. Based on info from HQ, I had one of the top sites in all of Patch for the past 2 years, but now I’m on the outs. Sounds like politics and not performance is the deciding factor for most, if not all, of us."

The dismantling had long been rumored, with the site being dubbed AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's "white whale."

Mass layoffs were conducted last summer, when some 500 jobs were eliminated.

Still another editor with over three years experience at Patch emailed Romenesko, that: "We knew it was coming, but the silence from New York over the few months was deafening.

"They left us in a state of suspended animation. For those of us who killed ourselves working for this company, it was a real slap in the face."

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