The fate of a local online news site is uncertain following the layoff of its editor on Wednesday.
Louisa Hufstader, editor and sole staff member of Patch Martha’s Vineyard, was one of many employees laid off nationwide, according to reports from several news outlets. She was informed early Wednesday in a conference call.
In early January, AOL announced a partnership with Hale Global to assume joint operations of Patch, a hyperlocal website covering communities nationwide. On the call, employees were told “briskly” that they would not continue with the new arrangement, she said.
“I went from being totally on the job, breaking news at 5 a.m., to being told I was unemployed,” Ms. Hufstader told the Gazette.
Patch began covering the Island in early 2011. Ms. Hufstader signed on about a year ago to be the editor of the Vineyard Patch site. She assumed responsibility of the Falmouth site in August in a previous consolidation.
Ms. Hufstader said consolidations appear to be an ongoing trend.
“They let go a lot of people because the company was hemorrhaging money,” she said.
Ms. Hufstader said she viewed the Vineyard Patch more as a local call-in radio station than a newspaper or blog. She was committed to telling the real story of Vineyard life, and encouraging local participation.
“I never tried to compete with the print news, because I viewed Patch as something totally different,” she said.
Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth were part of regional group of sites that included 17 other communities. On Thursday, the Marblehead editor, Owen Boss, had posted regional content to the site. Mr. Boss did not return a phone call Thursday.
Ms. Hufstader said in recent months, the company had begun to demand more content from their staff, raising the number of daily story posts and video requirements.
The demands had grown so great as to compromise the accuracy of some of her content, she said. She told the company that the “workflow was getting too intense,” she said.
“I am trying to detox because the job did get really hard over the past year,” she said.