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AOL’s Patch — which is in the midst of a blistering expansion — is now moving into the non-profit journalism space. The company says it will partner with “community foundations and other organizers” to set up hyperlocal news sites in communities “around the world that lack adequate news media and online local information resources.”
Warren Webster, the president of Patch Media, tells us that he could envision launching “hundreds” of the sites over the next few years and that Patch is “looking for towns or neighborhoods with strong community organizations looking to fill the void left by traditional media.”
AOL (NYSE: AOL) says all profits will be donated to the communities where the sites are based, although it isn’t disclosing other financial aspects. It won’t say how much cash it is committing to the effort and says that the break-down between how much it and local partners will dedicate to the sites “will likely vary by community.”
The launch of the initiative — called Patch.org — comes as AOL has said it will spend $50 million this year to expand Patch. Currently, Patch has 15 hyperlocal sites in its network, although that will expand to 41 sites over the next three months.
So far, Patch sites have primarily existed in the northeast, but last week AOL CEO Tim Armstrong announced an expansion of the network to additional geographies, including California, and this announcement mentions the possibility of opening sites globally.