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AOL Patch’s Layoff Spree Starts With 1: Man Fired for Taking Photo (Report)

Many more layoffs should come next week, hundreds of Patches will close

The ax may have finally fallen at Patch, AOL's profit-challenged network of hyperlocal news sites.

It just wasn't as expected.

During Wednesday's earnings call, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said the unprofitable Patches would be cut loose. It was generally understood that this would result in hundreds of layoffs, with Jim Romenesko reporting that the layoffs would happen on Friday.

That wasn't quite accurate. Armstrong informed employees on a conference call Friday morning that site closures and layoffs would begin next week. But there was one immediate cutback, according to Romanesko: a staffer who tried to take a photo of Armstrong on the call was abruptly dismissed.

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"Abel, put that camera down. You're fired. Out," Armstrong reportedly said.

It's generally thought that he was referring to creative director Abel Lenz — though Lenz would not confirm this, tweeting to Romenesko: "I appreciate the interest Jim, but I have nothing to share. Go Patch!"

Lenz's Twitter timeline includes several photos, many taken at Patch Headquarters.

As for the other staffers who got a weekend reprive: "No one got laid off at Patch today. #happyfriday #keepontruckin," tweeted one Patch employee.

AOL and Patch did not respond to requests for comment.