Local news publisher Patch has created new publishing tools for journalists. It's another sign of how the publishing industry continues to experiment with ways to monetize journalism as Google,
Facebook and Amazon expand their share of the digital advertising market.
Called Patch Labs, the platform gives journalists the tools to set up their own website and email newsletter to
cover local news, Axios reported. Journalists and newsrooms can apply to get on the
platform, then must adhere to a code of ethics to avoid getting kicked off.
Patch collects a 3% to 10% cut of revenue from sponsorships, memberships and listings on community
calendars, similar to the business model for Patch
. The company has been profitable
for the past several years, boasting a network of more than 1,200 hyper-local news sites.
website shows examples publications
using its platform, such as The Saline Post
and The Sun-Times New
s, both in Michigan, and Warren Country Online News
in Ohio. The publications provide a local angle on hot
topics, such as coronavirus infections, along with a mix of news about local events, crime, obituaries, garbage collection and school board meetings, among other items.
development of Patch Labs comes as the growth of "news deserts" in the U.S. leaves thousands of communities without a source of independent news, often more meaningful than what happens on a national
or global level. Amid the loss of readers and declining advertising revenue, many community publications have disappeared in the past 20 years.
While Patch Labs is in its
early stages, its growth would indicate that more journalists are seeking ways to self-publish on monetization platforms, such as Substack and Patreon. This year, journalists including Andrew
Sullivan, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald and Anne Helen Petersen started publishing their own email newsletters on Substack, which helps writers promote their work and handle back-end functions, like
managing subscriber lists and processing payments.
Every journalist should develop a business plan to self-publish — it can be a humbling experience in evaluating the
market value of news, information, analysis and opinion. However, learning to think like a freelancer is a healthy exercise for any journalist amid the relentless newsroom job cuts.