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Three years ago, the future was wide open for AOL’s Patch project – which endeavored to compete in the new media marketplace against mainstream outlets and websites like the one you are reading now using a network of community-based blogs.

After launching with just three local sites in 2009, the network had grown to more than 100 news sites within a year – and announced plans to hire more than “500 professional journalists in more than 20 states” by the end of 2010. Today, the network claims to be active in “over 1,000 communities and counting.”

One of the states targeted by Patch? South Carolina … which featured thirteen of these local news outlets.

The only problem? People aren’t reading … which means advertisers aren’t spending money.

As a result, AOL announced on Friday it is laying off 500 employees at its Patch division – roughly half of all Patch employees.

Wow …

This is becoming a trend isn’t it? Incredibly well-funded internet-based news ventures come to South Carolina looking to take us out – only to get flat out PWNED. It’s exactly what happened with The Nerve, another new media outlet we eviscerated.

Reached for comment regarding the dire straits faced by yet another one of his new media rivals, FITS founding editor Will Folks (a.k.a. Sic Willie) offered up a quote from former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler.

“Competition? Send ’em South,” he said. “They gonna drown put a hose in they’re mouth.”

Never heard the song? Enjoy …

“Boom, like that.”