Davis Patch is a local news site associated with Aol and The Huffington Post presenting what they call "hyperlocal journalism," events, blogs, videos and more. It aspires to be a hub of local news and information in Davis. Tons of the content is delivered on Facebook and Twitter.
As of October 15, 2013, Davis Patch no longer has an editor or any local staff. Aol laid off more than 400 Patch employees in August, so the company now has three types of sites: Staffed, Lightly Staffed, and Unstaffed. Davis and all other Sacramento-area sites are now unstaffed. They'll only receive content from Patch headquarters and posts by users.
Former editor, JustinCox22, was a pretty friendly guy—and a good resource if you have a question about Davis you want answered. (He departed in June of 2013, but the site will get a new editor in the near future). For example, when a wiki user e-mailed him after questions came up on the wiki about protesters against Mori Seiki over I-80, he did some investigation, wrote up a story, and added the info to the wiki within a day. It's funny how sometimes one man gives the entire staff of The Davis Enterprise a run for their money in covering timely news.
The website consists of a full-time editor and a team of paid freelancers who produce the news content. That is supplemented by unpaid bloggers and commenters. The model (which is for profit) is similar to the Huffington Post's use of unpaid volunteers which has been criticized in the past for publishing content written by professional writers who are not paid. The news ranges from university coverage and city government to arts and entertainment. Stories are often told through videos. Davis Patch articles have been known to reference and link to the wiki. Davis Patch also has business listings which are fairly thorough in their basic information but haven't yet been fleshed out with many reviews and opinions. Business owners/managers can claim their listing and play a partial admin role on their page.
Weather: The site also has a nifty little drop-down weather indicator up at the top of the screen. Interestingly, it appears to get its weather from the El Macero weather station, which is technically not in Davis (south of S. El Macero Dr., outside the Mace Ranch Country Club), rather than one located in Davis itself. In the summer it often reads a couple of degrees cooler than the other two stations in Davis (corner of Glacier and Olympia, and somewhere around Mace and Cowell).
$100K to Davis Schools:Davis Patch gave $100,000 to the Davis Joint Unified School District when Kristy Powell's family on Candy Cane Court won the site's Deck the House contest in early 2012. Davis dominated the contest, getting about 4,000 more votes than the second-place house.
2011-06-21 17:09:05 Seems like they're going after the for-profit version of DavisWiki. —jefftolentino
- 2011-06-21 17:12:12 Thats exactly what I was thinking. —jsbmeb
2011-06-21 17:12:56 BRB crowd-sourcing and making money off of it. —hankim
word... these Tossers Daubert
2011-06-21 17:20:21 The site says Davis resident, Justin Cox, is the editor for the site. I'd like to ask him how he thinks this site is different from the wiki. —jsbmeb Patch is different from the wiki in the regards that Justin doesn't get paid to contribute to the wiki... Daubert
2011-06-21 17:21:41 looking at a launched patch it's a web 2.0 crowd sourced semi journalist blog / yelp / for pay
looks like slapdickery targeted at mainstream people who don't know better —StevenDaubert
2011-06-21 17:30:47 More goodies from Justin Cox:
What do you think are the most important issues facing the community? Davis is a college town that was spun out of the rich agricultural land that surrounds it. That combination has turned it into a place full of incredibly smart people who care deeply about the health of the town and it’s future. The subsequent issue is: How do we grow responsibly?
False. Davis was a train town before it was a college town. Also, that should be "its", not "it's".
Where do you stand on each of these issues? I feel that almost every news story in Davis can be traced easily back to two things: Downtown and the University. I think the health and vitality of both should be at the forefront of nearly every conversation. In turn, I’d prefer to see the town grow slowly inward rather than sprawling outward, as so many surrounding towns have done.
So, that agriculture thing... not at the core of news stories? The Davis schools — you know, the ones that people move here for — not at the core of news stories?
If he is to be the editor, then I am already not impressed. —CovertProfessor
- Not to mention the entire rest of Davis outside Downtown and the University. There are a heck of a lot of issues and people living outside those two segments of Davis. -jw
2011-06-21 18:30:16 I emailed Mr. Cox and hopefully will get to hear his opinion soon. —jsbmeb
2011-06-21 18:56:27 From the looks of the Dixon Patch, it looks like the front page is devoted to news. It appears to be more of a local news site just from the front page. When I look at the business listings, it looks similar to a Wiki. However, the Dixon Patch seems to have a more organized look. The layout is simpler and more clean looking. You only see one photo and the rest of the photos are thumbnails. This is different than a Wiki where there are random photos of all sizes cluttering the page. In addition, the description of the business is kept simple and straight forward. On a wiki, descriptions of businesses are of all different layouts and are often too long to read through. If only the wiki were less cluttered.
- It reminds me of something else, but I'll point that out in a couple weeks. -jw
2011-06-21 21:12:12 Reviews from other patch sites say they don't pay their "journalists" all that well. I'm thinking the Enterprise will still remain the career builder for local journalists. Still, maybe the competition will push the Enterprise to drop that silly pay-wall they snuck in the other week (I'm still bitter about that). —jefftolentino
2011-06-22 12:22:12 Hi, I'm Justin, the Patch editor. Sooo, the site is mostly news. Our reporting will be done by me as well as a group of local freelancers. Patch does feature a business directory, and the site is for-profit. An attempt to become the wiki would, in my opinion, be a foolish task to undertake. It'll be an online news and information hub and I'll be the main person reporting, but all are welcome to engage. It'll hopefully go live soon; maybe even today. At that point, please feel free to swing by and see if it interests you. santacruz.patch.com and berkeley.patch.com might be decent places to get a snapshot. justincox22
2011-06-23 00:58:16 If you've heard of Sacramento Press, it basically looks like the same thing. I just can't see it being useful, with sites like the wiki and Yelp. While the Enterprise may be lacking sometimes, they do cover all that is basically worth noting IMO. I don't think you can get any more "hyperlocal" than DavisWiki, though. Just saying.
Also, as a student journalist who is always actively looking for jobs, I have to say that websites like Patch, Sac Press, and Examiner (I'd say Patch seems a lot like it) have raised big red flags. They're just not reputable enough and reek that certain stench of exploitation.. —CecilioPadilla
- Even for small newspapers (many of whom are hiring), the editors generally see this kind of thing as being fancy blogs. Same for the wiki or most internet-only sources; while you might gain a portfolio of writing samples, it's not yet really a resume booster because anybody can do it. Best of luck, Cecilio... there are some fantastic journalists and institutions to support them out there (even a few slowly starting to rise out of the net-only heap). It's a neat time to be involved in the industry. —jw
- I write for Patch, and I think it is perfect for someone who wants to make a little extra money doing something fun. I took one journalism class, and people seemed to like what I wrote and encouraged me to do more. It might not be the best choice for someone trying to start a career as a journalist, but the flexibility is great for someone like me with a full-time job. Honestly, I was skeptical about how useful the site would be for Davis residents before it launched, but so far I think it's awesome. My favorite parts are the events calendar, 'rate your neighborhood,' and the current weather right at the top of the page. The more people use it, the better it will get. —jennifer
- That's cool, and it sounds like you're having fun. I'm not at all knocking contributing to it: I own a publishing company, spend all day doing work for client newspapers, and I do free stuff for several community sites too! The point Cecilio made and I agreed to is only about the lack of impact this type of free work has on a professional resume if you're looking to start a career. I'm personally looking forward to seeing how Patch develops. -jw
2011-06-23 11:36:23 Love the animosity from the regulars. —AlexShenko
- Nit-picky wiki wonk preconceived opinionation without their having read the thing. Wait and read it, first. —RaoulDuke
2011-06-23 16:30:23 So now that the thing is actually up and running, do you think we could take all these incredibly negative, snarky comments — posted before it was even online — away and dispose of them? Like, maybe give the site a chance? Let the editor prove himself? Geesh. —DonShor
- Seems to me that commenting on the sort of site it is and on stated views of the editor are perfectly legitimate. What you call "snarky," other see as legitimate concerns. —CovertProfessor
- I didn't mean my comments to be snarky at all. There is a "city guide" component to this website that is has similar functionality found on DavisWiki. People can look up bussinesses, get information about menus, etc. They are also advertising on thier [their] site, which I'm assuming is for profit. As far as under-paying thier staffing, I was referring to a few articles I found on-line, like this one for example. I do think this will be a good website for the business community. We've had a lot of complaints from businesses who disagree with comments, how thier pages read, etc. Patch will give them the opportunity to get on an online city guide and have more control over what is posted, (which of course, they will have to pay for).— JT
2011-06-27 08:43:31 ( I read a NYTimes article about Patch and other companies they call content farms: Google's War on Nonsense) —SueHjerpe Content farming is a good way to classify the sites, thanks for the link Daubert
- Nationwide, Patch lost $100,000,000 last year. Turnaround plans: "the AOL-owned hyperlocal news sites plan to cut staff and freelance budgets and start producing 'easy, quick-hitting, cookie-cutter copy.' Examples: 'Best Ofs,' and features like 'What’s happening to this vacant storefront?'...” http://jimromenesko.com/2012/02/08/patch-to-reduce-staff-change-editorial-focus — ChristopherHitchens
2012-03-14 18:42:15 Anybody fine with archiving the comments from before 6/23/2011, when is when the site actually launched? They're pretty speculative. Seems more representative to start with the launch date, but I'm open to conversation. Also, I cleaned up the page today. If I blew it on any level, please let me know. —justincox22
- Leave the comments up; one of the functions of the wiki is to provide quick and easy access to relevant data concerning historical events. The perceived impact of Patch on Davis by community members during the few days of the run-up to the launch, as compared to/contrasted with its current raison d'etre will be of interest to future Wiki consumers. Especially considering Patch is a subsidiary of HuffingtonPost, the comment by Jeff Tolentino is not "speculative" at all; it is a fact that: "they're going after the for-profit version of DavisWiki." —GeorgeSantayana
- Fair point. Maybe we could just add something within the comments that indicates when the site went live and when it was pre-launch, to distinguish. Also, I'd say the site is more of a for-profit, online newspaper (and newspapers are for profit already). If it were aiming to be the wiki, I wouldn't be doing the job. First of all because I'm a reporter, and second of all because I love the wiki, and I know it can't be replicated or replaced. —justincox22
- I am curious as to how you would answer the questions, "What do you think are the most important issues facing the community?" and "Where do you stand on each of these issues?" today. Would you answer them the same way? —CovertProfessor
I still believe that Davis’s identity is as a college town, even if it was a train town first, as you mentioned. But yes, I would change my answer: You’re 100 percent right about the schools. They should have been a part of my response. I knew they were an important part of Davis, but not to the degree that I do now. As a reporter here (not an analyst or columnist), I imagine (and hope!) my answer will evolve over time as I learn more and more.
I think it’s worth noting that by identifying one issue, I’m not discounting all other issues. Most of my reporting is guided by conversations with people who know more than I do about specific topics. I think that’s important to remember. That’s why my personal email and cell phone are so readily available to people. —justincox22
- Besides schools, what other issues, going forward, will you be reporting on? —GeorgeSantayana
- City government, water, pepper spray, arts/music/entertainment, local businesses. It's pretty wide open and heavily guided by reader input and curiosity. —justincox22
- I just checked out Patch. Mainly lots of headlines about crime. Kinda depressing. Otherwise, StevenDaubert got it: "semi journalist blog / yelp / for pay looks like slapdickery targeted at mainstream people who don't know better" —GeorgeSantayana
- Really? I'll admit I don't check out the webpage that often, but every time I do, I feel like I learn about something that the Enterprise hasn't covered, and it does it without the spectacular bias and blinders you get from the Vanguard. When I had questions about those Mori Seiki protesters, an e-mail to Justin got answers within 8 hours that the entire Enterprise reporting team wasn't able to figure out for days. I doubt I'll ever use the business listing side of things on Patch, since we've got the wiki, but Patch does the news side of things extremely well. But if you have any questions about Patch, you should shoot Justin an e-mail. From my experience last time we had this discussion on the wiki, he's a very easy guy to talk to and is passionate about the work he does.
I still think all of the pre-opening comments are nonsense, and that it's unfair for the people who made them to leave them without any update based on what Patch actually is (versus what they expected it to be). But, we've had that conversation before and it's clear it's not going anywhere. All that said, I think Patch is a great thing for the community. If there's something in the community you want to know about, there's someone you can call up and, if it's of any sort of public interest, they'll go check it out and educate you and the public. If a responsive journalist isn't good for the community, I don't know what is. —TomGarberson
- Yep, crime stories...which he probably phoned into the police dept. to get. That's how they read, anyway, policespeak, a different style of writing not like his articles. And polls about where am I going to drink on St. Patrick's day. And other interactive type stuff, to get people to click on. Unlike the Wiki though, Justin is making money every time people hit Patch, I bet. Those pro sites all have ratings that tell advertisers how many hits the site is getting, just like the Nielsen ratings for TV shows. —GeorgeSantayana
- You're right. It was pretty crime-heavy yesterday, and some of the stuff was indeed phoned in. My observation after nine months of Davis Patch is this: Most college-age students (and younger) will never subscribe to a print newspaper or pay to get behind an online paywall. It's kind of sad, but local news isn't always the most popular stuff online. Davis Patch tries to make it more accessible — meeting people in the middle. I think it's valuable to make sure people follow local news (and links to wiki pages supplement daily news stories incredibly well). I'm the first to admit that I don't have the resources (or time) to match the coverage of a full newsroom, but I do cover a lot, and I'm always around to listen and take direction. It's definitely not for everybody, but in today's weird news-media environment, I think it provides a service. —justincox22
- Ah, well. It is what it is. I think you sell college students short though. They're probably more informed than the average joe. Most read the "free" sections of media outlets, blogs, Facebook, list-servs, the Wiki, watch TV, listen to the radio and read newspapers, (ones in cafes I see get well-used, after one person buys them). They couldn't have organized the Chancelor Katehi "Walk of Shame" and various Occupy UCD things so quick if they weren't. I just thought all the crime news was a little much, maybe it'll be different some other day on Patch next time I check it out. In reality, Davis is on the whole a pretty safe ol' farm town. Compared to bigger cities. —GeorgeSantayana
2012-04-04 21:44:45 Wow! I just looked at Patch seriously for the first time...there's a bit about my old hometown I didn't know about. To read the front page of Patch this evening, one would think Davis is being overrun with meth addicts. —jsbmeb
- Update: The DavisPatch seems to have given up. Directory includes many gone-out-of-business listings; a smattering of national news, and blogs about "human trafficking." When you think about all the amazing things going on in this town, that Patch could be disseminating, it seems like such a waste. it should go out on its own and find news no other outlets is doing if it wants to survive in a market domintied by the Wiki and other blogs. hey, that's it, since it is a sub of such a deep-pockets corp like Aol, why not act like a media outlet instead of a crime blog?! —GeorgeSantayana
I just looked at it, as I do every few days. Seems up to date in most regards. I'm not sure why you are so persistently critical of the Davis Patch. —DonShor
I guess they don't have dedicated volunteers like the Wiki does to keep the directory items up to date, which, come to think of it would be a duplication. My main criticism is, to elaborate on my above comment, this is such a high-powered website graphically, and it has deep-pockets money, it could uncover a lot of stories no other media does, although the Vanguard does delve where the Enterprise does not bother to go.
Like Davis Dirt is a great resource, put out by the MCNaughtons company, but has only enough space. Patch, if they hired some really good writers and editors could do a number on art gallery openings, performance art, dance, flash mobs, the sketch crawl, Barn theatre, street musicians, rockstar university, arb sales and tours...tons of stuff. you know this town, there's a lack of media coverage for stuff like that. —GerogeSantayana PS: The patch was much better when it started, local coveragewise, maybe their budget got cut?
2012-09-10 21:49:42 Even if it is outdated, as a directory service, I would argue that Patch is actually superior. They have photos and extended information about mundane stuff like laundromats, that most Davis Wiki editors could give less than two shits about. Sure, Davis Wiki is superior in some respects, but it also has its disadvantages because it relies upon volunteer interests and motivations which are mainly interest-based and not very consistent. —ScottMeehleib
2012-09-10 22:01:27 Also, in my opinion, Davis Patch has actually been steadily improving in the last several months with the exception of recent weeks where editor Justin Cox had taken time off for vacation and paternity leave. Davis Wiki, on the other hand, still maintains steady popularity and good edits, but its "gnoming" base is steadily wearing away. Ads and massive uncalled-for-deletions run rampant here these days. Perhaps if you really care about fighting the corporate interests behind Patch, you could help clean house around here, George? :D —ScottMeehleib
- "Clean house?" surely you jest!!! I leave that to the prisoners performing community service. Besides, we're talking apples and oranges here: I'm not referring to the "appearance" of either the Patch or the Wiki. I'm saying there's hella amazing stories happening in Davis, that never get followed up on because Justin Cox toes the Huffington corporate line, which is: dumb down the news. —GeorgeSantayana
2013-11-05 10:28:00 A few thoughts before this website likely dies entirely: Davis Patch itself didn't fail because of a lack of readership in town; it was an across-the-board move that claimed 450+ jobs within the company right after I left. (Whew!). I remember Patch getting blasted on the wiki right before it launched back in 2011 (comments above). From my vantage point, it was cool to watch people give it a fair shake after it went live, and many people warmed up to it. I truly feel like the site served a worthwhile purpose by quickly reporting local stories in short, easily consumed pieces. Teenagers and college students don't read newspapers, but it's important to keep them informed and they absolutely followed Davis Patch. The site reached casual consumers of news in their feeds and on their phones, and I think that made the town a better place.
Now that the site's just a boneyard of sponsored posts and national stories, I'm curious now how the media scene will shake out in town: Davis Voice, Davis Life Magazine and Patch are all essentially gone. Davis Enterprise and Davis Vanguard both serve audiences, but one relies on print subscriptions and the other, while smart, thrives off divisive political opinions. ISeeDavis, the Aggie and others are fine, but they're just supplemental pieces. The wiki and social media sites fit in there as well, but they often lean heavily on actual coverage. Either way, it'll be interesting to see where things go, in Davis and elsewhere. —justincox22