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What happens when patches fail? Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Aug 17 2013 12:00 PM

The future of patch.com remains unclear, alarming and lamentable.

The website specializing in local news delivered online — lajollapatch.com and imperialbeach.com for example — announced last week it would be shutting down hundreds of sites and firing a commensurate number of employees.

On the whole, the approach was a bit too relaxed and stingy for my liking, seeming to rely more on “citizen journalists,” inexperienced freelancers and bloggers to produce a feature-heavy product rather than one providing a constant stream of hard news.

Often it seemed that anorexic skeleton crews were asked to do too much too quickly with too little in resources and support. In short, the website appeared to be following the same path that countless newspapers have travelled in the last decade.

Nevertheless, the patch sites served a purpose and they provided a niche following with information they wanted.

Even though the overall product was too warm and fuzzy for my liking, when rumor of a Chula Vista Patch floated around a year or two ago, it was exciting. Chula Vista would benefit from having an additional source of information.
Competition among news outlets benefits readers. As each organization attempts to cover a story differently or examine an issue its counterpart missed, residents of a given community reap the rewards.

A variety of stories offers a smorgasbord of information and perspectives which, in theory anyway, creates the potential for a better informed citizenry and a better society. (Lofty, naive ideals, I know.)

As it stands now, the media coverage of Chula Vista — and National City — is minimal.

At The Star-News we do what we can with the limited resources we have. And on the surface, so does the local daily — though it wasn’t that long ago the “big” paper in town had separate staffs dedicated to covering National City and

Chula Vista and local schools and crime. Today, not so much.

Chula Vista Patch never materialized — though who knows, maybe it will if other local offices are consolidated — and the closest outlet is the one dedicated to Imperial Beach. Chula Vista residents won’t likely be affected if the IB site is mothballed.

But overall, the South County community will suffer. A region benefits when more — not fewer — spotlights are trained on the mundane events in life, the city hall meetings, the school board happenings and even the little league games.

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