AOL is going local with its Patch.com subsidiary, a sort of online newspaper / community forum. Encinitas' Patch is off to an impressive start under the leadership of young and enthusiastic Jennifer Reed, a recent transplant from Missoula, Montana.
Patch is what community blogs should be, except that most community bloggers have day jobs. Patch gets around that little issue by paying its staff. It's got a lot of potential to do things that are difficult for local blogs because of its resources and media connections.
I've seen Patch around town a few times already, at the Fall Festival yesterday and covering election night at Golden Hall.
Of course, being advertiser-supported means Patch won't be able to do a lot of things we love the local blogs for: muck-racking, yellow journalism, libel, and obscenities.
I think the existing local media, including the Coast News and North County Times, do a pretty good job of covering local issues, and blogs like the Leucadia Blog are indispensable for issues too controversial and politicized for mainstream papers. I welcome Patch into the mix and hope they'll play a significant role in the coverage and discussion of issues important to Encinitas' future.