Report: #1076510

Complaint Review: Sean McCullen

  • Submitted: Fri, August 16, 2013
  • Updated: Fri, August 16, 2013
  • Reported By: Joe — New Jersey
  • Sean McCullen

    , New York

Sean McCullen Sean McCullen, Metro, AOL Patch Misleading, reckless reporter, kickbacks, bribes New York

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

Sean McCULLEN is all about getting paid and writing stories that are bought and paid for by dirty politics and who ever is willing to pay him top dollar.  I remember this guy and he is all about himself.  No integrity, no morals, just a selfish careless, thoughtless reporter writing negligent stories that are politically motivated. I see he got rewarded a new job before the layoff.  I guess because he did some dirty politician a favor for a reward.  Wonder how much he got for it.  Looks like he's working with Metro News Now.  Good luck on that.


As things worsen throughout the summer, I thought many times to email you, but all those scary "intellectual property" contracts and the weight of AOL scared me out of it. You know... "you'll never get a job in this town again!" syndrome. But after what I went through, I don't care anymore. [continued below]....

..... I don't want people to make the mistake I made and take an internship with Patch.

I wasn't stupid. Long before I took Patch's offer, I was well-aware that Patch was shaky journalism, that start-ups are risky, that it was struggling, fiscally. But I figured, hey---It's paid, touts a $1,000 scholarship and would make me a Dow Jones News Fund alum. The sites might be shitty, but that doesn't mean I can't just make my content great....right?


The internship started on an unfortunate note when Patch flew all 60 of us to Bowling Green, Ky., to participate in the Dow Jones News Fund. Of course, DJNF is rather revered in the industry. They have standards, and they are traditionalists. Patch, however, is not. The conflict between Patch's expectations/mission and DJNF became more uncomfortable and stark as the days went on. We spent over an hour learning about narrative long-form, only to be told by Patch that the most we would write is 300 words. Do you see the problem?

Then, on my first day of my internship, my LE asked what kind of work I'd like to do. I told him I liked investigative pieces, trend stories and profiles. He kind of laughed and danced around it. 

"Patch isn't really a place for investigative journalism," he told me. Breaking news? "Oh we just let the big papers get to it first then we just link back. No need to rush out." Politics? "Someone from HQ will just write something up and send it over." Original reporting? "Oh, well we actually have a certain daily quota of posts we have to aggregate from other places."

I could almost feel the blood drain from my face. I had just signed up for a summer of event calendars and link-bait. 

Things have rapidly worsened. As an intern, I am expected to write no less than 4 posts a day, plus any breaking news aggregation, plus pre-writing and scheduling all the content for the weekend. That is no small task..especially for $10 an hour. Other interns on the East Coast seem to have been luckier, but it seems I got a bad "Patch."

Content has rapidly worsened, too. After 2.0, new "programming" came from HQ that mandated many of our daily posts to "ease the workload." Unfortunately, none of these posts were substantial. The sites are now littered with sponsored content and user-written blogs are masqueraded as news. Editors high up in the company write generic, catch-all posts that are edited to seem local and posted on the sites. (This has not gone well, as readers aren't stupid.) Essentially, Patch is just smoke and mirrors.

This isn't what I went to journalism school for. They should have advertised the internship as "online publishing" or even "blogging," but definitely not journalism. In fact, the woman who hired all of us has no background whatsoever in journalism. That, alone, speaks volumes.

It hurts me, ethically, to rip off other outlet's stories. It hurts me to re-write press releases and troll through city websites looking for things to rewrite. Will I even list Patch on my résumé? 

I don't think so. I'm ashamed at the type of journalist I have become, and I'm rather certain the majority of Patchers can relate. We're all miserable, and we want this all to end.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/16/2013 03:43 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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