Hale Global, the new majority owner of AOL’s struggling network of Patch local news websites, has laid off the editors of more than two-thirds of its local news websites, according to media news site Romenesko. Some sources say about 80 to 90 percent of the local Patch editors were laid off.
Patch runs websites in Princeton, Lawrence, East Windsor, and South Brunswick. All the sites remained live Wednesday morning, but none of the main editor’s profiles for the four sites remained active. When the profile links were clicked, a message appeared saying “There does not seem to be anything at this address.” The profile for regional Jersey Shore editor Tom Davis was still active. A Patch source told Planet Princeton this afternoon that all of the local editors in our area were laid off, including Princeton and Lawrence Patch editor Greta Cuyler.
AOL announced earlier this month that it was selling most of its financial interest in the sites to Hale Global, a turnaround firm based in New York and Boston, Patch COO informed employees of the layoffs this morning in a conference call. Romeneko posted audio of the call on his website.
“Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of the joint venture with Hale Global. 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,” said COO Leigh Zarelli Lewis, according to the audio.
Business Insider reports that a source familiar with Hale’s plans for Patch says the network will shrink to 250 sites from nearly 1,000. The source says the 750 or so zombie sites will aggregate regional news.