Something Wrong in More Than One Kind of Patch

On Wednesday, October 16, a Patch reporter from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin proved just how depleted her staff really is when she posted an inappropriate picture without checking it.


The article was a collection of photographs, consisting of different pumpkins people in the town had carved.   While Jim Romenesko got the picture right from the Patch story , the picture was still in the gallery.  A mass email was sent out by the reporter’s editor seeking help to get the picture off the website.


Date: October 16, 2013 at 2:42:17 PM EDT
To: Community Editors
Subject: Need your Help

I need your help ladies and gentleman. I appears a pumpkin photo I did not look at close enough — or maybe I’m just an old married lady — simulates, um, a carnal act. There is no way to delete a photo nationally in this gallery.

Could you guys help me delete this on the site you have permission for?


Since then, the photo has been removed.  While everyone can make mistakes, I think this was clearly an oversight, due to the lack of staffing that Patch had, and that many other Patch staffs have across the country.   This is one of the reasons Patch can get a bad wrap at times (as discussed in class) because some Patch’s spread themselves too thin, and that translates into mistakes, inaccuracies and overall bad journalism.  If they are determined to function and succeed with a small group of reporters then they need to acknowledge their limits and not take on more than they can handle.  The key to getting readers to come back to a site is if: 1) there is a new content added regularly and 2) the content is interesting, reliable and accurate.   Hyperlocal sites are typically run on small staffs and it is possible to do good reporting.   Sometimes reporters rely too much on the privilege of being able to edit/delete things posted online; they think it is a luxury that they never had with print journalism.  Mistakes such as this, however, should be avoided at all costs.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers were extremely offended by the photo, which could result in them not returning to the site.


One comment

  1. you raise good points. Hyperlocal papers can often times under estimate their power of journalism because of obvious audience reach and while its cost cutting heaven at these smaller news places, every staff member has the power to role play- make those second editorial reviews mandatory among the small staff. This incident reflects why Patch has had, a “rough” patch.

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