Patch Media president to discuss digital platforms for neighborhood news at online journalism symposium

The president of Patch Media will discuss the building of a platform for neighborhood news and information at the International Symposium on Online Journalism on April 2.

Warren Webster heads Patch Media, a division of AOL that is responsible for, a network of hyperlocal news sites. He will give his keynote address starting at 1:30 p.m. has earmarked $50 million to hire editors to generate content, oversee a team of freelancers and manage budgets for 800 sites in 19 states. The news service has received a significant amount of media attention from those who believe hyperlocal news sites are perhaps a saving grace for journalism, while other observers question’s ventures.

Some critics have lumped in with so-called “content farms” like Yahoo’s Associated Content, and Demand Media. These sites hire thousands of freelancers who churn out copy in large quantities. Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for The Poynter Institute, said he was “consistently underwhelmed” when sampling aspiring hyperlocal news sites such as and

Nevertheless, AOL and have shown a major commitment to covering communities.

Also, in March 2010, AOL started the foundation to partner with local organizations to fund Patch sites in under-served areas.