Goodbye Catonsville Patch
Patch editor Penny Riordan is moving to a new position within the company.
It was two years ago this July when a former editor and mentor of mine contacted me about a new opportunity with a company called Patch.com.
I was working at the Caroll County Times at the time and had followed the company's expansion up north in Connecticut where I used to work. I knew their model was online-only, they were owned by AOL and the job was very community oriented.
My former editor didn't have to sell it to me too hard. Once I heard they were hiring in Maryland and in the Baltimore suburbs, I knew I wanted to be part of the team. If you've looked at my bio you know I used to live in Union Square in West Baltimore and have family in Arbutus, so Catonsville was the closest place with a decent grocery store from my home in the city.
Catonsville Patch launched in October 2010 on the day of Catonsville High School's Homecoming. Since then we have covered everything in the community, from crime to businesses opening and closing to neighborhood issues.
In that time I moved twice within town and now live within walking distance from downtown Frederick Road. I've become a regular at Atwater's, where many of you have stopped by office hours to meet me, ask me questions about the site and pitch stories.
I've also watched the site grow and evolve into not only a news site, but an information site and a hub for community conversation. In fact, that's the part about the job I love the most.
In the just under two years I've run the site, we've brainstormed about parking issues, lamented the loss of local businesses, talked about running, crime and many other topics. I've experienced two July 4th parades, covered earthquakes, Derecho storms and met so many interesting people.
The pace of an online-only publication was freeing for me after all of my years in print. People would ask, 'when is your deadline?' I would reply, 'whenever you send me the information and I sit down and write the story.'
I enjoyed the immediacy of the online world, as well as the immediate feedback I received from readers in the minutes after I posted a story.
I've been a professional journalist for nearly a decade and no job that I have had has given me such a level of connection to the community. I have truly loved that.
You've chided me (sometimes rightly so), encouraged me and inspired me. I have felt accountable to you and often felt this site was just as much yours as it was mine.
What makes Patch different is not only those community conversations, but the openness of the site design. Want to get in touch with me? My face and email are on the homepage. Not only can you comment on a story, but you can post an announcement, event, or add a photo. If you have something you'd like to say that is all your own, you can start a blog.
You can do all of this without having to jump through lots of hoops or get approval from a lot of people. All you need is a log-in.
Some journalists and traditionalists may think this model gives too much power to readers, but I argue it is readers that keep us in business in the first place.
Through this job I have also networked with many other employees in Patch and been a part of some exciting stuff behind the scenes.
As a result, I found out about a new opportunity within the company. I've accepted a new role within Patch and am leaving Catonsville Patch.
Sunday will be my last day as editor. I hope you will stop by and see me at the Arts and Crafts Festival at the Patch tent.
In my new job, I'll be working with other Patch sites up and down the East Coast, helping to expand their network of active participants, recruiting and tending bloggers.
I won't be leaving Catonsville and I may be in touch with some of you in my new role. I will also be blogging on the site, so you'll still be able to stay in touch if you'd like.
I also want to thank a team of great freelancers and columnists who have worked to help make this site where it is today. Columnist Cheryl Dunigan has made us laugh and Emily Lowe taught us about food. Dianne Burch tutored us in local history and also profiled some inspiring home renovators. Hillary Pennington taught us to save money and also blogs for the site. Jennifer Cooper inspired parents. Meg Tipper shared the stores of local business owners. Jane Byers showed us many of Catonsville's gardens. Former sports freelancers Alex Pyles and David Snyder were with me from the start and have since moved onto fantastic jobs with other media outlets in Baltimore.
When I first accepted the job, there were many sites that were available to choose from in Maryland. I said I only wanted to be in Catonsville. I knew that this was the place to be for a startup site that relies on community participation to thrive.
Thank you readers, for helping create community in Catonsvillle online in this new and exciting way. I hope you'll stick with Patch as we continue to grow and evolve. I know I believe it is the future of news, information and community conversation!
If you need to get in touch with someone from the site in the interim, contact Arbutus editor Bruce Goldfarb @email@example.com or Associate Regional Editor for Baltimore County Bryan Sears at firstname.lastname@example.org.