Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oconee County Patch Site Now Being Edited From Athens

Gross No Longer Editor

The Oconee Patch web site is now fully under the editorial control of Rebecca McCarthy, editor of the Athens Patch site.

Stephanie Gross, who has edited the Oconee site since shortly after its launch in December of 2010, ended her association with Patch on Tuesday.

Oconee Patch Site

The termination was part of the cutbacks and restructuring at Patch announced by parent company AOL back in August.

“I am thankful I had the opportunity to cover the Oconee County community for three years at Patch,” Gross told me on Thursday. Gross said she is looking for work in the area.

Georgia On List

A memorandum from Patch CEO Bud Rosenthal published by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Thursday, said that the Georgia Patch sites made up one of 14 “designated market areas” where sites will continue to be staffed.

Within those 14 designated areas, however, “towns” will be designated as “Core & Near Core” or “Open & Peripheral.”

The former will be “staffed,” while the latter will be “lightly staffed.”

All towns in the remaining designated market areas not considered to be in the top 14 will be “unstaffed.” Patch has 31 designated market areas. Several other sites were closed in August.

The memo said Patch is seeking “potential partners” for the 17 areas not considered to be top priority.

The memo referred to the Georgia sites as in the Atlanta designated market area. All 46 Georgia sites are around or near Atlanta.

Other sites in the list of 14 designated market areas for staffing include Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York and Washington, D.C.

It isn’t clear whether the Oconee site, being edited from a neighboring site, is considered to be “staffed” or “lightly staffed.”

Gross Survived August Cuts

Oconee Patch Editor Gross survived the first round of layoffs back in August.

Not so fortunate were Patch editors in Monroe, Loganville-Grayson and Barrow County.

As of today, Gross’ biographic sketch is no longer reachable through the Oconee Patch site, though articles she posted there as late as Tuesday still carry her listing as editor.

Reversal Of Policy

The decision to have the Oconee site edited by McCarthy represents a reversal of policy for Patch.

When Gross was hired back in 2011, she was required to move to Oconee County so she could be part of the community.

McCarthy lives in Athens.

The top story on the Oconee Patch site at the moment is about the Oconee County Fall Festival and is posted under McCarthy’s name.

Changes Obvious

The Oconee Patch site changed almost immediately after the announcement of cutbacks in August.

McCarthy’s name began to appear as editor, but Gross also was identified as an editor when she posted on the site.

The site also has begun to include a lot of nationally produced material as well as material from other sites nearby.

So far, the site remains open to local posting. I post abstracts of my stories on Oconee County Observations on the Patch site.

By my choice, I am not posting this story to the Patch site.

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