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"Patch.com's Newark plan smells of conflict" Hey Arianna Huffington, what do you have cooking with Cory Booker?

Written By mista sense on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 8:50 AM

"Patch.com's Newark plan smells of conflict"--that's the headline of the LA Times' James Rainey.  And of course, Patch is owned by AOL, and AOL is now effectively controlled by Arianna Huffington.   As Rainey explains, not only is the relationship improper, journalistically, but it might also be based on a "romantic relationship."  That's not illegal, of course, but it is interesting--and should certainly be disclosed.  Here's Rainey, who is a brave man to spell all this out: 

Imagine if the San Francisco Chronicle beefed up coverage of the state capital and asked Gov. Jerry Brown which agencies deserved the most coverage. Or what if Fox News planned to take a closer look at the United Nations with the blessing of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon?

The snickering that ensued would be prolonged, followed by a righteous blast of indignation from other news outlets. Journalism born out of such cooperation would rightly stink of conflict.

That will be at least the initial aroma around the latest journalistic initiative by America's fastest-growing news outlet, Patch.com. The AOL-owned operation announced this week that it would open hyper-local news sites in Newark, N.J., "in partnership with Newark Mayor Cory Booker."

It doesn't really matter whether Patch's executive overseer, Arianna Huffington, is merely a good friend of Mayor Booker, as she says, or had a romantic relationship with him, as others have suggested. 

Either way, the new journalistic arrangement looks just a little too cozy. Booker is helping pick the neighborhoods where Patch will set roots, and the outlet's president, Warren Webster, gushed about his desire "to work closely with Mayor Booker to bring neighborhood journalism, information and social interactivity to one of America's great cities."

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