AOL Hiring 290, Spending $50 Million To Expand Local Blog Network Patch

Patch Editor

AOL wants to hire 290 people in an effort to expand Patch, its network of local news blogs.According to a job board, gigs range from Editor, Old Town Alexandria Patch to Ad & Marketing Graphic Designer to Regional Editor – California (LA County 2, Region 2).

Earlier this year, AOL told employees it plans to expand Patch, its network of local news blogs, from 30 sites to “hundreds,” by the end of 2010.

The goal: “To be leaders in one of the most promising ‘white spaces’ on the Internet.” In the same communication, AOL said it wants to be “the global and local leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high quality content.”

In March, AOL told shareholders (via the SEC) that it plans to spend $50 million fueling Patch’s growth.

What kind of people is AOL looking for?

Meet Liz Mitchell (pictured above), who runs the Patch site out in Culpeper, Virginia. According to her official bio, Liz “graduated in 2005 from the University of Missouri with degrees in journalism and religious studies.”

“Before Patch, she worked as the health and environment reporter for the Island Packet on Hilton Head Island, S.C. She’s also worked as a county government, cops and courts reporter for the Culpeper Star-Exponent in Culpeper, Va.”

Nathan Susanj, who won lots of awards from the Illinois College Press Association


Basking Ridge

Official bio:

Before becoming Editor in Basking Ridge, Nathan was a freelance contributor for multiple Patch sites in central NJ. He also served as Editor in Chief of his college newspaper at Wheaton College (Ill.), where he worked with an award-winning editorial staff that was recognised 17 times by the Illinois College Press Association -- more than any other newspaper in their class. Nathan grew up in central NJ, but was born and lived near Pittsburgh long enough to become a huge fan of the Steelers and Penguins (and a tepid fan of the Pirates).His last name is pronounced soo-ZAN-ee. He wouldn't have guessed that either. Lastly, Nathan is very proud to be a part of a great Patch team bringing hyperlocal news back to the wonderful state of New Jersey. You can follow Nathan on twitter @RidgePatch.

Mike Pignataro, the veteran of Connecticut's Hearst newspapers



Official bio:

Mike grew up in Essex County before attending Fairfield University in Connecticut where he was an English-Journalism major and four-year member and captain of the men's tennis team.

Since 2004, Mike has worked for several of Hearst's Connecticut Media Group newspapers, including the Connecticut Post, Greenwich Citizen, Norwalk Citizen and most recently as the managing editor of the New Canaan News and Darien News.

Mike's journalism career began in sports, covering high schools, colleges and the Pilot Pen and U.S. Open tennis tournaments. For the past three years, Mike's focus has shifted to news where he has reported on and managed writers who covered local government, town meetings, elections and schools.

Mike recently relocated to New Jersey with his wife, Lindsay, and 3-month-old daughter, Lilly, to join Patch's team.

Mike hopes to combine his news and sports background into the right mix for readers of The Caldwells Patch.

Whitney Rhodes, who graduated in 2008, joined a newspaper, and then quit it for Patch



Official bio:

Whitney created a community-focused news website,, during her college career at George Mason University. She graduated in 2008 and quickly moved up to New Jersey to serve as Asst. New Media Editor for the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill. Finally free from the dull suburbs of northern Virginia, it didn't take her long to adore small town Jersey. It's taking even less time for her to fall in love with Cranford (and Patch).

Kelly Feeney, the PBS documentarian



Official bio:

Bio: Outside of print journalism, I've also worked on documentary films for PBS and in financial services. But reporting and writing are what I like best.

Rick Burchfield, the former sports editor for the local paper



Official bio:

Rick has been involved in the coverage of Morris County news for more than six years and has lived in Northern New Jersey his entire life (save for his first year in the world).

He graduated from Penn State University with a B.A. in journalism, a minor in English, and as the sports editor of the Daily Collegian.

Rick was most recently the sports editor at the Daily Record, where he was assistant sports editor and a copy editor/page designer before that.

He has also previously covered minor league baseball and various professional sporting events. He is excited to have his full attention focused on the Borough of Madison and is looking forward to meeting more of its residents.

Mary Mann, writer of fact and fiction



Official bio:

Twitter Bio: Writer of fact and fiction, urban planning and economic development. Philadelphia native. Married with two children.

Lois Cantwell, the un-biographied



Official bio:

A transplanted South Jersey-ian, I recently moved to North Jersey to live in and write about Ridgewood.

Admittedly, I'm fresh out of college (La Salle University -- Go Explorers!) but that doesn't mean I'm fresh out of experience. This spring, I wrote features for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and last year I worked on the city desk at the Press of Atlantic City. At La Salle, I served as editor in chief for the La Salle Collegian.

On top of my writing interest, I enjoy rooting for the Phillies (sorry all Mets/Yankees fans in Ridgewood), playing guitar, dabbling in improv/sketch comedy, and being with those I love. I really don't have favourite pop culture titles, but to reveal a little about myself, I'll just generalize. Book: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; Movie: Mallrats; Album: Sha Sha by Ben Kweller.


Scotch Plains-Fanwood

Official bio:

Lindsay has lived a little bit of everywhere, but mostly grew up in North Augusta, S.C., a small town along the Savannah River best known for its proximity to the Master's Golf Tournament and soul singer James Brown's birthplace.

She got her journalism degree from the University of Missouri, and moved to Rhode Island after graduation for a stint in AmeriCorps and at NPR. Her journalism career goes back to childhood, when she memorized newspaper articles and read them behind the kitchen table like a TV anchor.

She quickly moved on to reporting her own stories, and has done work for The Augusta Chronicle, Tampa Tribune, Columbia Missourian, RI Public Radio and Her spare time consists of taking small road trips, eating lots of Mexican food and scoping out good vintage finds.


South Orange

Official bio:

I'm a graduate of Columbia High School (2000) and Yale, and I've worked as a reporter at The Jersey Journal and as an editor at New York Resident magazine.

I lived on a Brazilian beach for a year somewhere in between. I'm obsessed with 'The Wire,' '70s-era Al Pacino and dog parks. I usually root for underdogs but used to be a Yankee fan.

I stopped when they canned Joe Torre; if I could choose any living person to have dinner with, he'd be high in the running. If I could choose a fictional person, it would be Gus from 'Lonesome Dove.' Or Chuck Bass from 'Gossip Girl.' I live in Jersey City.

Adam Bulger, the local newspaper guy who freelanced for biggies like Forbes traveller



Official bio:

Before Patch, Adam was a staff writer for the Hartford Advocate. Besides the Advocate, his writing has appeared in The Believer, New York Press, Forbes traveller, and elsewhere.

Heather Collura, formerly of USA Today.



Official bio:

Heather is a Jersey girl at heart with a passion for journalism.

She graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2008 and since then has worked for USA TODAY, the Daily Record and the Asbury Park Press.

In her free time she likes to read books, especially Harry Potter, James Patterson, Dan Brown, Jane Austen and Twilight, and cheer on her favourite sports teams: the Mets and the Syracuse men's basketball team.



Official bio:

John comes to Westfield Patch from three years as a freelance journalist covering real estate and politics in New York and New Jersey.

During this time he broke some of the biggest political and real estate stories across New York State.

Earlier in his career he was a reporter for Worrall Community Newspapers in Union County, reporting on the communities of Summit, Clark, Mountainside, Union and Springfield.

A Cranford resident, John received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from Niagara University and his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.Totally unplanned, he managed to become Niagara's first triple minor, with minors in Communication Studies, Environmental Studies and Religious Studies. He has worked in Corporate Communications for a major financial services corporation and as public information officer of the Niagara Falls Charter Revision Commission.

John has signed a contract with the Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. to write a book on young elected officials, which is scheduled to be published in 2010. For the book he has interviewed over 90 current and former young elected officials across the country. He has won a community reporting award from the New Jersey Press Association and first place for in-depth magazine reporting of state government from CapitolBeat. He volunteers as a Board Member and Program Committee Chairman of the Columbia University Club of New York and as an alumni admissions recruiter for Niagara University. John is passionate about Niagara and Columbia sports (warning come March, he will want Niagara to win the MAAC). He will also willingly answer any question about the Niagara Falls/Buffalo area and enjoys discussing politics, real estate and a variety of other subjects. He likes to bike, jog, swim, read and hang out with friends.

Nicholas Loffredo, who is living his dream after leaving two Gannet Newspapers



Official bio:

Nicholas is living his dream, as being a journalist was always his chief aspiration. After spending his life in several small, northern Jersey towns, he attended college in Maryland, studying journalism and government.

He spent the past few years as a news editor at two Gannett newspapers but is glad to be back in the role he first held at Worrall Newspapers after graduation--community journalist. When not arguing politics, he enjoys music, sports and a good book.


New Canaan

Official bio:

Amy Jeffries prefers her 1983 vintage Schwinn 10-speed to any other form of transport. If she wasn't making a living in journalism, she'd be a part-time farmer and spend the rest of her days doodling on various instruments and dabbling in various languages.

Before Patch, Amy was a staff reporter for WNPR in Hartford and a contributor to National Public Radio. She also did a brief stint with the Associated Press in Johannesburg.

She has mentored teen journalists in youth media projects in Connecticut and California and taught radio to graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley.

Her reporting has taken her to China, Zimbabwe, South Africa, hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, economically-challenged Ohio, and now New Canaan.

Back when she was a tiny tiny thing Amy went to East School, and she's a graduate of NCHS where she was the weakest link on the maths team and first chair flute in the band.



Official bio:

Kira grew up and attended public school in West Hartford. She graduated from Barnard College in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English and Anthropology.

She came to Patch after a year and a half covering towns for The Day newspaper in New London, CT and, before that, a fact-checking stint at The New York Observer. Kira completed internships at The Hartford Courant and Discover Magazine.



Official bio:

Liz graduated in 2005 from the University of Missouri with degrees in journalism and religious studies.

Before Patch, she worked as the health and environment reporter for the Island Packet on Hilton Head Island, S.C. She's also worked as a county government, cops and courts reporter for the Culpeper Star-Exponent in Culpeper, Va.

In her free time, she loves going to the beach, running and spending time with loved ones. Her parents and sister reside in Wilton. She also has two brothers - one in New York City and the other in Santa Monica, Calif.

Liz encourages every Westport Patch viewer to feel free to contact her with any questions, comments, concerns or ideas for coverage. She welcomes all suggestions and hopes you find the site engaging, informative and a place that serves as a community platform. Thank you for visiting!



Official bio:

I'm somewhat peripatetic by nature. I was born and raised in Milan, Italy and spent time living there and in Berlin, Germany before moving back to the U.S. around age 10. I lived in Waterford, CT for several years before attending college in Vermont, sowing wild oats in Vail, CO and doing a two year stint in San Francisco. As much as I love to travel, though, I always land back in the Northeast and consider it my home.

I just completed a Master's Degree in Journalism and have written and worked for a variety of publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Point Reyes Light and National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Patch particularly excites me because it caters to my itinerant urges by keeping me constantly on the move and puts them to good use serving a great community like Wilton.

When spare time arises, I fill it with vintage guitars, skiing, golf, circumnavigation, post-modern literature (my collegiate major) and have ambitions of getting into spelunking. I find caves fascinating.

I also have a propensity for going for runs at odd hours so if you see someone jogging in a neon vest at 11 p.m. along Route 7, wave to me.



Official bio:

Ryan grew up on Long Island and then fled south to the University Richmond, where he graduated with majors in journalism and political science.

He spent two years as a reporter at a community newspaper in the Richmond suburbs before heading to South Korea, where he taught English for a year and was constantly pointed at by small children yelling, 'Big nose!'

After deciding to leave teaching to those with more skills (and patience), Ryan returned home and earned a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

His work has appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Queens Chronicle, The Korea Times, amNewYork and In his free time, Ryan likes to watch pointless YouTube videos with his lovely girlfriend, Jill. He also should probably cut down on his Taco Bell intake.

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