Updated Sunday, August 18, 2013, 1:55 p.m.
New Jersey was not spared as Patch, AOL’s hyperlocal media network, laid off 350 employees nationwide on Friday.
Inside contacts at Patch in New Jersey confirm that three associate regional editors would be terminated, four local editors where let go immediately, and possibly four more local editors were given an end date of Oct. 15. The layoffs came as a surprise to some since New Jersey’s 89 Patch sites are considered among the strongest both in terms of content and revenue.
Patch employees, alumni and competitors shared information through social networks yesterday as news dribbled out about who was being fired and who was being spared. For many, it was a gut-wrenching experience.
No site closures have been announced in New Jersey. News media are reporting that Patch may announce another 150 job cuts nationwide as it looks to partner with other media companies to buy or operate under-performing sites.
Corporate staff who live in New Jersey were also affected. Last week, Patch President and COO Steve Kalin and Chief Content Officer Rachel Fishman Feddersen were fired. Another senior manager who lives in New Jersey posted on her personal Facebook page that she voluntarily left Patch last week.
The editor of Ridgewood-Glen Rock Patch, James Kleimann, announced his departure on Ridgewood Patch’s Facebook page. Kleimann wrote, “Before you read about it elsewhere, I want to be the one to tell you that I will no longer be running Ridgewood-Glen Rock Patch. I was laid off today as part of a large-scale company restructuring. I do not know what that means for the site going forward. Hopefully it can continue to serve as a tremendous resource for the community. It’s been an honor covering Ridgewood – a community I call home – and Glen Rock. I’m proud of the work I produced over the last three years. More importantly, I feel very fortunate to have met so many great people. I wish you all the best.”
Kleimann was on the team that won the top prize at Hack Jersey’s first hackathon in January.
Editors from Summit Patch, Manasquan-Belmar Patch and Toms River Patch were also confirmed as being laid off as of Friday. Possibly four more local editors were reported to be given an end date of Oct. 15; the Basking Ridge editor announced her Oct. 15 end date on her personal twitter account.
Kleimann’s post was followed by dozens of comments from readers and colleagues thanking him for his reporting and wishing him well — plus a post from The Alternative Press asking him to contact them.
The NJ News Commons has also put out the word that it is currently incubating new sites in under-served areas with micro-grants. NJ News Commons also continues to work with Patch as a media partner.
Mary Mann, now deputy director of NJ News Commons, was the editor of Maplewood Patch from October 2009 to April 2012 and associate regional editor for Patch’s Union County, NJ sites from May to September 2012.