When I was an 18-year-old journalism major, everyone was pinning their hopes on Patch.

For a quick blink of time, the pre-AOL Patch was expanding wildly. They were leading the hyperlocal charge and, more importantly, they were hiring. 

Among the young, yet-to-be-journalists I knew, that was the magic word. We whispered it in our Society of Professional Journalists meetings (which we held late, after the last evening classes, in the mostly dark building our department shared with the math majors): Hiring. 

And hiring not just page designers and press operators, the stuff of so many journalismjobs.com ads, but hiring editors. Hiring reporters. And growing.

Here’s what David Carr wrote about Patch this week:

In August, it was clear that the math would not work. More than 350 people at Patch were laid off and hundreds of sites were shuttered…

But [AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong] still cannot quite admit that it is over. In the phone call on Friday, Mr. Armstrong talked about impending partnerships and stressed that Patch was ‘moving toward’ profitability. Patch, even in its death throes, is ever nascent, still rising, on its way to a future only its founder sees.

In Patch’s lifespan, I’ve moved from an 18-year-old wannabe journalist to a 23-year-old who comes home at night smelling like ink off the press that churns out my byline every day.

And the hardest thing, still, is betting your life and your passion and your time on a future that doesn’t exist yet.

I still think we’ll find an answer. It just wasn’t Patch.

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