Two area Blogger’s take exception to the presence and accuracy of Patch

Not that many months ago Patch, AOL’s news group came to LA with the promise of hyper local news reporting. I have to admit I had high hopes for them to be digging into local news that the bigger outlets don’t tackle as it just wouldn’t generate the ratings. Not all the bloggers held the same high hopes, some certainly have taken exception to the presence of “McBlog”.

Here in the SGV two bloggers in particular have focused on what Patch is doing in their communities. Sierra Madre Tattler and Monrovia City Watch believe that Patch reporters don’t report accurately or in depth.  Allegations are also made of censored comments and out right banning from comments.

On the first topic Sierra Madre Tattler is more adamant about the shortcomings of patch. John Crawford has numerous posts up on Tattler regarding the short comings of the legal understanding and accuracy of reporting. He has openly challenged the stories on their controversial water rate hikes. He and many believe that procedurally the city didn’t follow the law regarding hearing notices etc.,. When challenged Sierra Madre Patch ultimately stood behind the report even though Sierra Tattler believes they gave them all that was needed for a retraction. (As a side bar the Howard Jarvis folks are looking into the rate issue and may sue over how it was done).

He summed up Patch in a recent email “he reporting on Patch is lame at best, disinformation at worst. The Sierra Madre version of America’s 800 site McBlog has resorted to telling the worst kinds of lies in what is a rather pathetic attempt to curry favor with City Hall.” He also said in a blog post “Sierra Madre has long been beset by media that thinks people here are only interested in reading hollow press releases and brain numbing boosterism. Material coming from the same small handful of people, over and over again.”  More on his thoughts HERE.

My emails to Sierra Madre Patch editor John Stevens for comment on the allegations made by Sierra Madre were not responded to.

Here in Monrovia, Monrovia City Watch takes exception with the depth and accuracy as well, but is more concerned with censorship of comments. Recently there was an unfortunate loss of life in a fire and comments went off topic into the effectiveness and compensation of the local firefighters. In it Cyrus posted a link to a youtube video that was, according to Nathan McIntire of Monrovia Patch, flagged by 3 locals as “inappropriate”.

After that Cyrus made several additional comments regarding the “censor” of his comment. He has stated to me that those comments were all removed as well as those made by Nathan to remove the entire chain of comments so no one could read into what had transpired.

Nathan commented on Cyrus’ allegations in an email to me:

As far as the depth of our coverage, I think it speaks for itself. We cover Monrovia on a daily basis and are grateful to have been embraced by nearly everyone in the community, including Mr. Kemp (who was a very active user), before this unfortunate incident.

Regarding Mr. Kemp’s charge that he was “censored” on our site: the only comment of his that was ever removed–before our regional editor removed his recent threat to spam our site–was removed by other users. It was a link to a video deriding firefighters (in vulgar language) that was posted to a story about a local woman dying in a fire. Three users flagged the post as inappropriate, and it was automatically removed by our system.

Cyrus reponds that it is pure “bullshit”, that he was banned because he got into “Nathan’s face over the depth and accuracy of the fire reporting”. He agrees that the video had what some would consider vulgar language, but he believes that the link alone could have been deleted. If they felt his including his blog URL in the comment was spam they shouldn’t have included a spot to put ones URL in the comment in the first place. Banning him outright was just “Bullshit and hiding behind the TOS was equally so”.  (It appears that flagging results in automatic removal of comments by the Patch system based on Nathan’s comments).

Bloggers like Cyrus and John get it that comments aren’t always nice or for the thin skinned. Certainly life isn’t always nice-nice, but is the AOL TOS for Patch just a little rigid?  (I get it they are a big corporation and can set their own terms of service).  Anyone else running into similar with Patch?

(screen grab of the patch sign-in courtesy of Cyrus Kemp and it does get bigger with a click)

3 thoughts on “Two area Blogger’s take exception to the presence and accuracy of Patch”

  1. I don’t follow any of the Patch sites but I do come across some of their listings on various Yahoo forums. I’ve read some of them, some have been interesting, but many of them are built upon work already done by local bloggers–who I prefer to support.
    I occasionally read the Tattler because I appreciate their take on local issues, and since Sierra Madre is one of the gateways to the forest area, I consider it part of my ‘back yard’. I appreciate the work the Tattle has done to try to keep the various government services honest–and a most thankless job it seems to be. It is that dedication along with friendship with so many and support of so much good that goes on in their area that gives the blog its own identity and character.

    And it is the lack of real identity and character that characterizes all the Patch articles I’ve read.
    On a HP Patch article posted on the NELAlist forum about Taylor Yard HS Boundaries, there was discussion back and forth about the accuracy of the information provided. Then someone posted a link to the map orivided on EastsiderLA (originally posted Feb 2). The original Patch article was posted on Feb 10th. DUH.

    Fails like that make me not trust the information, or the completeness of the information.

    Patch journalism seems like a Readers Digest or USA Today approach to local reporting and/or blogging.

    I’d love to see the guidelines for what they can write/cover–I’m glad some out of work journalists have found work, but but real reporting? I don’t think so.

    I love the individual voices I find here which is why I come back again and again.

  2. Interesting topic that raises some big issues. With much of writing on the Internet, readers can call out bad or inaccurate writing by commenting directly. Ideally, that both helps the writer self-regulate and causes the best writing (most informative, accurate, entertaining, etc.) to rise to the top. But that doesn’t work if the comments are blocked in some way. Having comments removed after being reported 3x can lead to abuses, such as 3 people acting, in concert or individually, to censor the views of those with whom they disagree.

    In that case, what’s the best recourse for the would-be commenter who wants to call attention to problems with the article? Write about it on their own blog? Email their thoughts to someone who has a platform?

    And hopefully, the critics in this case are aware of the libel laws when voicing their criticisms.

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