The Petaluma Patch–Hyperlocal News

A new online “news”source came into our Petaluma World today– a new kid on the local media block….Ah, I mean PATCHPetaluma Patch to be precise.

Petaluma Patch joined Petaluma 360, as well as the Press Democrat and Watch Sonoma County web sites as sources of local news or what is also called “hyperlocal” news for P-Town. But, of course, our local web environment also has “news” sources such as the Aqus Community newsletter and numerous local independent bloggers (including yours truly) to fill up our screens.

Integrating all of these sources of information is a challenge for us ordinary folk.

  • Will one site dominate?
  • Will they specialize?
  • Will genuine in depth investigative reporting be provided by any of these sites?

Back in the day when print media dominated, communities were considered blessed if they had several newspapers. Today, perhaps we measure ourselves by the number of online news sources that serve us. 

Finding a balance and then integrating all of these “news” sources is a challenge for the reader. For the hyperlocal news providers, there is also the classic journalistic tension of publishing “news” we need versus “news” we want. Finding this balance in a business model that also generates a sustainable income stream is particularly tricky. It takes time to build a readership with advertising support. 

One of the risks of all of these hyperlocal news sources is that they can create the impression that what is happening here is unique and not part of a larger picture in the county, the state, and the country.

So I ask: 

  • How do you get your information?
  • How do you decide which source to trust?

To achieve some sort of balance and perspective, I often check in with CaliforniaCityNews to learn what is happening elsewhere in California.  Frequently, I find that stories that seem peculiar to Petaluma are also being played out elsewhere.

The “Patch” model is going to be interesting to follow.  Given the fact that it is part of a major nationwide effort by America Online (AOL) to build a network of hyperlocal sites, it should be taken seriously. 

As for me, I am still struggling daily to come to terms with all of the various aspects of new media and social media.  When frustrated, I pick up a hard copy magazine, newspaper, or book. 

Old habits die hard…

To preserve MySpace
I Tweet on Twitter
To save Face…book”

Rivetti Estates Que Syra Syrah…Petaluma Gap

Anvil Adams, newly appointed Official Photographer for the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino (Petaluma’s famous but fictional wine institute) recently completed his first photo assignment for the Instituto. *

Although a fictional photographer, Anvil crossed the misty border between the virtual and real worlds to photograph a real event–the recent early morning November grape harvest at the Rivetti Estates Que Syra Syrah Vineyards in Western Petaluma. The Instituto is pleased to present a few of his photos for your viewing pleasure.  The Instituto also thanks Frances Rivetti of Southern Sonoma Country Life for writing the photo titles and providing the “technical” vino text for much of this article.

____________Que Syra Syrah!____________

The Rivetti’s (Timo & Frances) are Vino Garagistes, producers of “Vins de garage“, a.k.a. “Garage wine”… members of a group of creative wine makers in the Petaluma Gap micro-region…

…Syrah, cool climate…

…Grapes picked, crushed, fermented, barrel aged for 20 months & hand bottled at the foot of the hill the grapes were grown on…

The grapes go ’round and around… Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho…

And they come out here…

* For details of Anvil’s appointment, go to  Camera Obscura Futura Lens…See the future

Camera Obscura Futura Lens…See the future

The Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino, Petaluma’s famous but fictional wine institute, is pleased to announce that Anvil Adams, notorious photographer, has joined our Instituto.

Anvil came to us as part of a work release program a few weeks ago.  We first tested his abilities by sending him out on an assignment to photograph the grape harvest at Petaluma’s Que Syra Garagiste Vineyards. He is now working on editing the photos of the grape harvest and we will report on them next week.

Anvil, however, has some very unusual camera gear! He has a special camera lens–a Camera Obscura Futura Lens to be precise.  While he has not perfected the focusing technique for looking into the future, he has produced some very interesting photos of our currency in the future.

We thought we should share his photos…

Officers & Staff  of The Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

La Centre de l’Experience du Vin de Petaluma 

Chief Wino &  Solo Vine Manager (We have only one vine)–Frank

Official Photographer–Anvil Adams
First Secretary-Vinnie Parducci
Second Secretary- Guido Marcucci
Third Secretary-Gustav Von Da Vee
Treasurer-Minnie Da Moocher
Counsel–Horace Rumpole of Chateau Fleet Street Claret
Vat & Barrel Managers-Jay Gaulo
Restaurant Manager-Al Fresco
Food Director–Sushi Tira-Misu
Director, Financial Planning-Two Fingers (as in “a-one-a,” “a-two-a”) Sabastiani
Director of Protocol & Arbiter of Taste–Marthe Stuarda
Tour Director-Expresso Camino Freeway
Movie & Video Critic-Francois Fjord
Bouncer–Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi
Chats du Vin Extraordinaire—Hannah Sue & Gracie Mae (The Claret Kitties)
Tristan E. Isolde-Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling
Enchy Latta—Director of Catering
Jerry Attrick–Senior Citizen Wine Consultant

Freelance Editorial Cartoonist Suspended!

READER NOTE–Important updates to this article are included at the end.

The “suspension” of Steve Rustad, the Argus Courier’s freelance editorial cartoonist, for violation of his “contract” is a curious matter. In the abstract it appears to be a contradiction in terms.  If a person is a freelancer, how is it that they could ever be in violation of a policy or contract provision except for failure to produce the piece they agreed to provide?

Perhaps the “answer” is in the contract, which, of course, I am not privy to.  However, I wonder just how such a contract might read and whether or not the signatory freelancer of such a contract is a de facto employee. If so, then there are a host of other legal issues that come to mind. Such contracts are known as contracts of adhesion or one sided contracts. In other words, the terms and conditions are not negotiated.  It is strictly a take it or leave it contract.

Petaluma 360 bloggers are also “bound” by a written agreement. While they are not compensated (insofar as I know) they have certain restrictions and requirements imposed on them. I suggest that Petlauma 360 bloggers become aware of them if they have not already done so.

Below is the latest version of the Petaluma 360 “Blogger Agreement” that I have.  I highlighted certain critical portions–particularly the section where bloggers agree to hold Petalluma 360 harmless. 

After reading it, it may be prudent for bloggers to check with their insurance agent as to whether homeowners insurance will cover them in the event of legal action or litigation.


Petaluma 360 Blogger Agreement


By submitting weblog columns (“blogs”) to, you agree to the following terms and conditions and any subsequent modifications. may revise these terms and conditions from time to time, and the new terms will take effect on the date of posting.  Please review these terms and conditions every time you post a blog as they are binding upon you:

1.  You agree to update your blog at least once per week.

2. You may post your blogs to other blogs, provided the blog posted on is updated first.

3. You may post readers’ comments. 

4. You may not post libelous, untruthful or obscene material or comments.

5. You acknowledge and agree that your blog, in whole or in part, is subject to removal by in its sole discretion.

6. You may not post any self-serving or commercial promotion materials.

7. You represent and warrant that your blogs will be original, will not plagiarise another’s work, infringe another’s copyright or trademark, violate another person’s rights, including the right of privacy, or contain libelous or otherwise unlawful or misleading material.  You also represent and warrant that your blogs will not have appeared elsewhere, in whole or in part, and that you have not been paid to promote another’s viewpoint or product.  You agree to indemnify and hold harmless from all costs, expenses, liabilities and damages arising from a breach of the foregoing representations and warranties.

8. You grant to the irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free license to redistribute or republish your blogs in any medium or form. 

John Burns, Publisher

707-776-8450 May 21, 2010

UPDATE November 14, 2010  Go to>> Drawn and Quartered

UPDATE November 15, 2010  Focusing only on the apparent provision in the freelance contract with the NYT prohibiting a freelancer from doing work with any “current or potential news source”…it appears that such “non-compete” clauses have been declared invalid by the California Supreme Court. See


  • November 13th, 2010 8:43 am | […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Petaluma360 and Feelancer Team, Blog-o-Line. Blog-o-Line said: : Argus Cartoonist Suspended … Bloggers Beware – Petaluma Argus Courier (blog) […]

    by Tweets that mention Argus Cartoonist Suspended … Bloggers Beware – Petaluma Spectator – Petaluma 360 – Petaluma, CA – Archive —

  • November 13th, 2010 10:40 am Thank you for posting this, Frank. I had no idea these sort of terms and conditions were in effect. I’m not entirely sure that Ross was ever notified directly about them. Perhaps they didn’t exist when he was originally approached by the Argus to write a blog, prior to P360′s existence. Either way, definitely some food for thought, particularly item 8.

    by Jennifer Lockhart

  • November 13th, 2010 11:45 am Jennifer–I agree that Item 8 is important. But don’t forget Item 7. That is where the danger for individual bloggers resides. See “Your Internet Posts Can Get You Sued For Defamation…or worse!” Link>>

    by Petaluma.Spectator

  • November 13th, 2010 12:15 pmDo I have this right? If you are a blogger, all the benefits go to Pet 360 and you take all the risks? SUCH A DEAL!

    by Steven

  • November 13th, 2010 12:34 pmSteven–I can only answer your question by directing your attention to the link I mentioned in the response to Jennifer above

    by Petaluma.Spectator

  • November 15th, 2010 3:09 am Argus Cartoonist Suspended … Bloggers Beware – Petaluma Spectator ……

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

    by World Spinner

  • November 15th, 2010 10:34 am Thanks for the post, Frank. I sort of recall the agreement, but sometimes wonder if my “opinions” could be taken exception to…but that would be censorship! Oh, no! Love how Stephen Colbert manages to lampoon about anything he feels needs attention with nonsense. I just want to write the truth with joy. But truth is a relative thing. Aren’t we all relatives?

    by In.Her.Own.Write


  • –The Times’ ombudsman addressed the issue of freelancer ethics a while back. Some freelance writers had apparently accepted junkets.
    Freelancing is to employment as a one-night stand is to marriage. If newspapers want to control what you do outside work, they ought to marry you–i.e., pay you a full-time salary and benefits. Otherwise, they ought not to stand in the way of “dating”–or making a living elsewhere. 
    –Is the New York Times Company seriously suggesting that they don’t have freelancers who also have direct political campaigning views? They publish editorials from active politicians every week. 
    –We’ll be seeing more and more of this as media companies install the new plantation-system, where everyone, except management, is freelance or work-for-hire. The bigshot contributors will still be able to do what they want. Everyone else… including cartoonists, of course… is screwed.
    –Ethics are fine and dandy when you’re making $75,000 a year to be ethical.
  • I’ve never done any work like this here, and probably wouldn’t, but I’m not going to fault the guy for doing an unsigned freelance job.The old standards no longer apply. FoxNews and Huffpo and, yes, NYTimes Inc. have seen to that.
    How many editorial page editors have slid into high-paying jobs as political operatives or corporate flaks and then slid right back into newsrooms a few years later? No one seems to have a problem with that.
  • Petaluma Patch … New Media Coming to Petaluma!

    No, it is not another Petaluma pumpkin patch. “Petaluma Patch” is a new “hyperlocal” Internet news site that is part of a larger national organization setting up local online news sites around the country. 

    According to the national Patch web site: “The Foundation was formed in March, 2010 to improve the quality of life in underserved communities across the globe through access to trusted local news and information. The Foundation plans to partner with community foundations and other organizations to fund the operation of Patch news and information sites in communities that need them most: inner-city neighborhoods and underserved towns around the world.” For more information, Click Here.

    It appears that Patch has spread rapidly across the country and you can see the scope of their growth by Clicking HERE.

    It is quite likely that the Petaluma Patch site will be operational by the end of the month.  Karina Ioffee is the Patch editor for the Petaluma site. One of the unique features of Patch is that they apparently pay their content providers. The full nature and extent of that compensation is not yet known to me.

    As of the time of this posting, the Petaluma page is available for viewing and provides more information about their plans for Petaluma. See



    • The editor for the Petaluma Patch news site (Karina Ioffee) does live in Petaluma. 
    • Patch is in the process of lining up content providers for the Petaluma site—and no, I have not been contacted.
    • I have NO official information regarding people recruited as reporters or columnists.  Even if I did, I would not report it.
    • I have NO idea as to their editorial policy.


    Gina Cuclis of North Bay New Media has just published an excellent article containing a considerable amount of information about Patch and the Patch Petaluma site.  I strongly urge you to read it and to consider the very pertinent and inciteful questions she poses at the end of her article. To read it, click on>>> AOL’s Hyperlocal News Project Patch Coming to Sonoma County

    Wednesdays With Murray…

    While not planned, this was the year for updating my “skills” with the camera.  Thanks to the gentle nudgings of Nina ZhitoI completed three weeks of classes with Frederic Larson and seven with Murray Rockowitz (Wednesdays with Murray, as I thought of the experience). 

    While Larson and Rockowitz are from different photographic traditions, they conveyed common themes in their classes–at least that is how I perceived them:

    1. It does not matter what kind of camera you have as long as you learn to use it within its limitations.  Move up later, if you care to do so.

    2. Take the time to read the manual and practice using the various features.

    3. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting–Learn how to use it and how to manipulate it.

    4. B&W photography–According to Larson, the true test of the quality of a photograph is whether it also holds up in B&W as well as color. Rockowitz recognizes color, but his forte is B&W portrait photography and handcrafted prints. Trust me, you have to see them to believe them. 

    The courses also altered my vocabulary to a certain extent.  The common phrase of “taking photos” is slowly being replaced by “making photos” as I wander about with my cameras.  At first it seemed to be an “affectation” but I came to realize that it is true.  From the moment you frame or set up a photo in the viewfinder to the final editing in a dark room or editing on a computer, you are making decisions about what to present in the final picture. 

    Before closing, a few words about the Petaluma Arts Center are in order…

    Until I took the photo classes, I never gave any thought as to the Petaluma Arts Center.  It was just another building…another one of those hidden assets one is not aware of until opportunity puts it in your field of vision. As for me, I will be back for the photography classes planned for next year. As a Camera Apprentice, I look forward to them…

    For I am not comfortable with describing myself as a Photographer. Camera

    But I was never comfortable with being called a lawyer, or an executive either…Rolling on the floor laughing