By Chris MacCarthy
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, September 28, 2011
[The following article is courtesy of the Seacoast Scene]
The Encyclopedia Britannica was always considered the most comprehensive collection of knowledge - volumes filled with answers to any and all questions. Then Wikipedia came along and anyone with a mouse or a keyboard could find answers written by experts in their fields. And now there's something new ... a hyper-local information highway, a Neighborpedia resource called Patch.com and with the help of Hampton-North Hampton Editor Kyle Stucker it's taking multi-media journalism to the next level.
Patch.com offers community-specific news, information, photos and videos from around town, as well as information on businesses, resident-written blogs, and an interactive community calendar that anyone can access and update 24/7 for free. A UNH graduate, Kyle loves multimedia, especially photography and video. "Patch is growing, it's innovative, and most of all, it's interesting. It's a perfect fit for me because it allows me to do more than just report the news. I love going out every day and talking to people, listening to their stories, finding out what's on their minds. Human interest stories, especially the ones with a strong, unique character angle, are my favorites. Recently I wrote about Ralph Fatello. He is one of those characters. He surfed every day for a whole year - through injuries, bad weather, whatever life handed him - for Molly, a girl whose story is very special to seacoast residents. And that is the point of Patch - to give smaller communities a chance to be seen and heard. So often in the news people-oriented stories are upstaged by national news."
An increasingly familiar face around town, Kyle is the one sitting in Me and Ollies, the Lane Memorial or North Hampton Library, and FreshMarket working on a laptop branded with the Patch logo. But it isn't easy being the new kid on the block. According to Kyle, "The hardest thing is getting the word out that we are here. I know nothing about advertising but I just keep showing up wherever the community gathers. People are getting to know who I am and that I'm never too busy to listen to what they have to say. Some people think we're just here for a little while but we're not going anywhere. While other news outlets are contracting, we're expanding. Presently, Patch has over eight hundred sites in 23 states plus DC. There are 10 sites in New Hampshire with more coming on board.
Patch gives people a place to give and to get. More and more community members are getting involved entering the contests, blogging, sending in photos. Every day someone comes up and comments on something they've seen — the audience is growing. Patch uses only word of mouth advertising - no full blown ad campaigns. We stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter. It's what journalism has to do now."
So where does Patch go from here? Kyle's answer was quick and full of enthusiasm, "I'm looking forward to covering life on the seacoast in the off-season. Tourism might be gone but the interesting and compelling stories aren't. I love talking to people. Come talk to me!"