how patch responds to criticism: the delete button?

9:48 p.m. UPDATE- the new regional editor referenced below at end of post actually responded to me. Yes given the way contacting Patch before was like a black hole of nothingness it was a surprise. Anyway, he said he was sure it was a “mistake.” As of a few minutes ago or so it seems like my account is back, but I am not sure if all my comments and/or posts are. I will let you know. I am pleased this new guy seems responsible as a Regional.

I went to sign into my Patch today because a lady I comment back and forth with responded to me on a Malvern Patch post where I had commented the other day. Ironically, I had even been complimentary to the editor Nate Adams because it is one the first real news posts I have seen out of him on Malvern Patch. But when I went to log into Malvern Patch, I got this:

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Yes, my account was deleted. Mind you I have had a Patch account for years. As a matter of fact, I used to be a freelance photographer for Ardmore Patch on occasion between 2010 and 2012! I even contributed to Radnor Patch.

I thought, wow, this couldn’t be possible, surely this is a mistake. So I cleared out my browser and tried logging into other Patch sites like Ardmore and Radnor. Nope. Same message.

The only thing I can deduce is because of my criticism of West Chester and Malvern Patch editor Nate Adams that he took it upon himself to delete me?

It has to be that. And here’s the rub: there was no reply to my e-mail I sent him on September 29th asking how coverage was determined these days and expressing my concerns that local news wasn’t being covered for West Chester or Malvern. Mind you there were other Patch people on that e-mail and none of them responded either.

So I posted the e-mail openly on Patch. It had a LOT of comments from Patch readers who felt pretty much exactly the SAME way as I did.

But now, that post and every comment I have made on ANY Patch site over a few years along with my original Patch account have been deleted.

There was no e-mail sent to me telling me to simmer down or I would be deleted. No e-mail sent saying ANY comments were being removed because I violated some terms of service. Nothing. I was simply erased.

And while that is their right because it is their site, is that what a true editor does? Is that what a media outlet does? Lordy, look at the comments left on major metropolitan media outlets – print, radio, and television.

But no, because I criticized Patch and the current editor rather than dealing with it, I was simply deleted. That is not journalism.

So I wrote to the new regional editor who has apparently replaced the former regional editor. His name is Tim. I told him how I felt about it flat-out.

I re-registered with Patch. I fully expect Nate Adams to delete that account too. I guess I am somewhat stunned at the lack of professionalism. However, to that end, I have been told by many that I shouldn’t worry about Patch as a local media resource and hyper local news outlet because they are all faltering THAT badly. As in it is only a matter of time.

Time will tell. In the mean time, consider this a cautionary tale: Patch editors don’t respond to criticism like real media professionals. And to those who will say that bloggers do that with comments, yes we do, but our blogs are our own. I am not owned by AOL Time Warner. I am not owned by a large corporate entity who pays me to be an editor of a hyper local news site. These Patch editors are compensated media professionals and should be able to handle themselves better as well as actually do the job they are paid to do.

Sign me amused. I love the smell of the First Amendment on a cloudy fall day.

what does AOL Patch actually cover?

malvern patchChester County is a big place.  Not all areas of Chester County have much media coverage at all.  I am going to zoom into where news matters most to me: the areas of West Chester and Malvern.  I am also going to zoom in on one “media” outlet in particular: AOL Patch, the self-decried innovators of “hyper-local news”. (And FYI there are many all over the country critical of Patch.)

When I first started reading Malvern and West Chester Patch a couple of years ago I was impressed. They were actually living up to AOL Patch’s mission statement or whatever of covering local issues important to residents, in other words they were actually doing hyper-local news coverage. At that time they had a terrific regional editor and hard-working individual site editors.

What has evolved to present day is somewhat disappointing. Quite a few changes in individual site editors and a regional editor who sees big news as things like what the best diaper is. Not that diapers aren’t important to moms everywhere, but are they hyper- local newsworthy?

Malvern and West Chester is a fairly large area to cover with multiple municipalities representing zip codes 19380 and 19355. I want to acknowledge that up front. But it seems to me that news in West Chester and Malvern is not being covered and that is not good.

Many Municipalities out here in these two zip codes do not have any televised meetings even if they could if they wanted to. So we depend on local and hyper-local media for coverage. And I don’t see this gap coverage on Patch. What I see is a lot of fluff and things re-posted from other Patch sites that are not necessarily newsworthy.

What do you think of Malvern and West Chester Patch and the current editor who is covering both sites?

Are you disappointed in Malvern Patch and West Chester Patch?

I am.

There is a lot going on out here, and while no media outlet can cover everything, in my humble opinion they should be covering a fair representation of news in the communities under the “Malvern” and “West Chester” umbrellas.

What was the impetus of this post? Not just one thing, but a culmination of many things.

Take for example a recent article from Abington Patch cross-posted in Malvern Patch on September 16th titled Forty-Six Parishes Under Archdiocese Scrutiny. This article was basically a republication of a Philadelphia Inquirer report.  Furthermore, Patch references affected parishes in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.  Not one word about CHESTER County, so what was the point of putting this on Malvern Patch?

And then there is the STILL uncorrected spelling error in an obituary headline.  I wrote about that on September 18th I found it so sloppy and disrespectful to whomever the deceased was.

There are many other examples I could cite as disappointing, but I won’t. You all get where I am going.

west chester patch

Do you think Patch has lost its way?

What do you want to see coverage of?

My list includes (but is not limited to) coverage of local meetings and issues facing residents, information on candidates for upcoming elections, real coverage of local businesses, meaningful profiles of residents doing terrific things, and coverage of local sports that is not borrowed or regurgitated from other sources.

It would also be helpful to see our local Patch editor out and about covering some things, because as it stands I do not see where this guy has actually visited our communities. And face it, if you are going to cover us in a hyper-local manner you have to get out and explore. And face it, Chester County has a lot of cool things to cover in addition to local government and other issues which may not be considered so positive.

At the end of the day, I would like to see Patch in Malvern and West Chester to once again cover where we live. They have employees being paid to do this, right?  Why can’t they cover the area like Radnor and Tredyffrin Patch sites do?  And if AOL Patch has changed and will no longer be covering where we live, it would helpful if they just said so.

Also to consider is what is the future of journalism? Once upon a time we thought it might be AOL Patch.

Thanks for listening.