Fenton Patch Creates Local New Economy Jobs

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January  2012          Issue 1.5
Just because Fenton Patch features daily local news doesn’t mean the new business is just an online newspaper. According to editor Jason Alexander, the website is a lot more than that.

“It's hard to describe,” he says. “I call it an online community center. We do local news, but we also want to be a platform for the community to connect to each other.”

One thing is for sure, Fenton Patch definitely is an example of a thriving “new economy” business in Fenton. There is no Fenton Patch office. Alexander and his team of six freelance reporters and ten bloggers work from home, coffee shops, events – wherever things are happening in Fenton.

“They're not sitting in an office,” Alexander says of his team. “They're out talking to people, being a part of the community every day.”

Though their operations may be non-traditional, the local news stories covered in Fenton Patch don’t lack any of the quality of a traditional news source. Alexander’s background in newspapers certainly has something to do with that. After eight years working for the Tri-County Times, Alexander moved eastward to work for the Port Huron Times Herald.

“When I saw the opportunity to come back home to start a Patch in Fenton,” Alexander says, “I jumped at the chance.”

He stresses, however, that Fenton Patch isn’t a competitor to traditional news sources like newspapers. Their emphasis on community engagement and social media sets the website apart from other media.

Fenton Patch is in fact one in a network of “Patch” websites in local communities nationwide. Currently, 26 Patch websites exist in Michigan, and more than 800 are published in the United States.

“They give us a base for the website,” Alexander explains of Fenton Patch’s relationship with the American Online-owned Patch leadership. “But as far as content and how we run things, there is a lot of flexibility for the local editors to do what our communities need.”

What that means in Fenton is a blend of local news stories about businesses, events and issues, as well as blogs including local viewpoints, reviews and stories. The website also includes a community calendar, business directory and content from nearby Patch sites.

“It's been fun to watch it grow,” Alexander says of the business that launched on December 20 of 2010. “One of our goals is to make life ridiculously easy for people to find anything they need in Fenton in one place.”

Community participation is essential for this goal to be reached. Fenton Patch encourages visitors to comment, share photos, story ideas and blogs.

“We really are looking to further that connection with the community,” Alexander says. “If there is something that needs to be done and there is some way we can help, we want to do that. We're looking for more ideas, more photos, more people telling us what's important to them.”

To be a part of the Fenton Patch community, visit http://fenton.patch.com/.

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