Osama bin Laden killed: The view from Patch

"Really? Really?" asks interview subject Jonathan Spencer. "Are you making this up, because I'm on the third day of a three-day bender. I have not heard this."


A scene from 'Locals React to Death of Osama bin Laden' on Studio City Patch.

"What were you on a bender for, for the royal wedding?" Patch asks.

"Yeah. Yeah," Spencer replies. "Because white people like me, all we do is just drink and (inaudible.)"

Keep watching. It gets better. Szymanski did not return a telephone message requesting comment on Patch's bin Laden coverage.

Grade: A -

9) Patch Site: Brandon, Fla.

Headline: "Brandon Reacts to News Osama bin Laden Is Dead (VIDEO Included)"

Commentary: Not to be outdone on the bar-scene-reactions beat, Patch's writers in Brandon hit up a handful of local pubs and, as a bonus, stop by a Florida Bank of America branch. Patch gets points for posting two reaction videos, as well as gathering quotes from Floridians with military connections.

Oh, and this gem from a worker at O’Brien’s Irish Pub in Brandon:

“We couldn’t find a 6-foot-6 diabetic on dialysis in the desert and now we did, and that’s a great thing,” Jimmy Destino told Patch. “He may be the head of Al Qaeda but he’s just a small piece. It’s not really going to change anything except now he’s a martyr. It was a great step for Americans to see, though, something that we’ve been over there for years to do, and we finally got him.”

Grade: B -

10) Patch Site: Lisle, Ill.

Headline: "Finding a Teaching Moment in Bin Laden's Death"

Commentary: Patch infiltrates schools in Illinois, to see what teachers are telling their students about bin Laden's death. Here's what we learn: kids ask a lot of questions. At least the older kids do.

“We wound up having a very wide-ranging discussion with the kids about you everything from how the operation might have worked to presidential decision-making,” one teacher told Patch. “It was sort of all over the map and that is pretty much of what I expected.”

Younger students probably aren't going talk about it in the classrom, says a district spokesperson. You're on your own, parents, according to Patch.

Grade: C


Based on our survey of Patch sites, it appears that some sort of directive went out to the network telling editors to craft "reaction" stories in each market. We're looking for confirmation on that point. To that end, we've sent questions to a high-ranking Patch official but haven't heard back just yet.

UPDATE: Just heard back from the Patch people in a rather large way, via an extended phone discussion with Patch Editor-in-Chief Brian Farnham. 

Indeed, there was a directive issued to the Patch editors about the bin Laden news."You don't have stories as big as Osama bin Laden being killed every day," says Farnham. Instructions went out from the network's four editorial directors: Do something or other on this story!

From there, Patch editors made the call: Video? Text? Both? Farnham says that the nature of this story "lends itself well to video" but that "some other editors might choose to write that piece out."

So how did the Patch stories on bin Laden do in terms of traffic? "They did very well," says Farnham, who credited much of the traffic to the network's "great SEO." "We were actually showing up as the fourth or fifth [in Google] results, so that was driving a lot of traffic."

Yet as they harvest quotes and clips of people spewing about terrorism, Patch editors needn't worry too much about getting viral stuff. That's because Patch observes something that Farnham terms a "ceiling of traffic." That is, since the sites aim to cover a discrete community---and only that community---it doesn't aim to reach people all over the world. "If you're in a town of 50,000 people and you get 50,000 uniques, you're doing your job," he says.




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