Today’s Boston Globe story about Patch contains some noteworthy factoids about the scale of the rapidly growing AOL hyperlocal venture.
Like the fact that AOL is “spending $50 million to expand Patch nationally to hundreds of sites by the end of the year.”
But before you go applying to be an editor at one of those sites, you might want to read the following email that one of Patch’s local editors (there’s typically one editor per site), sent to Northeastern University Journalism Professor Dan Kennedy.
The editor, who shared her thoughts anonymously (duh), said Patch editors work 70-hour weeks and are on call 24/7 without being able to take the vacation days promised them.
Basically, the job is 24/7 with so far little support in getting any kind of time off — nights, weekends, vacation days guaranteed under our AOL contract. (Some regional editors do try to help; others don’t.) This time-off issue has become a major concern among local editors. You might hear about the 70-hour work weeks. Yes, 70 hours and more. It’s a start-up and all that, and I knew it would be hard work going in. But what is becoming distressing is this sense that I can’t get a break. I’ve worked in journalism for more than 20 years as a newspaper reporter, online editor, magazine editor, and I’ve never worked so much in my life.
She also explains that Patch has a policy that the local editor is responsible for finding a freelance editor to fill in when he/she needs to take off, and must pay the temp editor out of his/her freelance budget. And she reminds us that a Patch editor is not only a reporter, but a “city editor/assignment editor/managing editor/copy editor” who also handles “freelance payments … doing videos, monitoring calender and event listings, doing some of our own marketing, and even HR.”
Granted, those pretty much seem to be the same requirements and skills bulleted in Patch’s job listings, so the editors should know what they’re getting themselves into for the most part.
But before you start yelling about how lots of people work 70-hour weeks with demanding responsibilities, and how people in the media should just be happy to have jobs period, keep in mind that Patch editors pull in base salaries of around $40K a year.
We’ve already told you about how Patch’s revenue model makes no sense. Now it seems like their employment model might be just as unsustainable, assuming this editor’s claims ring true for Patch’s entire stable of editorial employees. (If you happen to be one of them, we’d love to hear from you!)
We have an email out seeking comment from AOL and will update if we hear back.
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