If anything, I think Patch’s trials and errors will show that online local news can be sustainable, even profitable, if you have good, hardworking journalists, a strategy to keep costs at a minimum, and a willingness to stick to what has made community news a staple across America for decades. It’s a challenge, and I wish my former colleagues the best of luck. 

The print version of this story, which appeared in the March/April 2012 issue of CJR, featured two sidebars: “A brief history of hyperlocals” and “Tim Armstrong Still Believes.”

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Sean Roach worked for Patch from November 2009 to September 2011. He is a freelance writer based in New York and also works in public relations. He is currently running for elected office in the Village of Sleepy Hollow.