Huffington challenges grantmakers to help revitalize local news with AOL’s Patch network

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Arianna Huffington, head of AOL’s Huffington Post Media Group, opened the second day of the Council on Foundations annual conference in Philadelphia today (April 11) with an invitation to more than 1,000 foundation execs to join with her in reshaping local news and information through social media. Criticizing the mainstream media’s preoccupation with institutional conflict, sensationalism and fear-mongering, Huffington referenced “the fourth instinct” — a need for spiritual fulfillment and community — that, she said, co-exists with the primal drives of survival, sex, and power. In a 25-minute speech that mixed business promotion with inspiring messages, Huffington encouraged the leaders of philanthropy to join with her in a revitalization of local news through Patch, AOL’s rapidly expanding network of local news sites.

Noting that Patch is now operating in 900 communities, Huffington presented it as a vehicle through which local civic leaders can “accelerate what is working and … identify needs.” And she ended this section of her remarks with a direct invitation to the assembled grantmakers: “I would like to work with you on this,” presenting Patch as a way to make local problem-solving “scalable.” — Mark Fuerst in Philadelphia