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AOL’s Patch Limps Toward Profitability

After more than five years of reporting on school-board meetings and community bake sales, AOL Inc.’s Patch is now at the center of another story: whether the company’s bet on local news can be profitable.

Patch, with more than 900 sites supplying news to communities or neighborhoods, has become a test case for both the online-news industry and AOL’s ability to transform itself from a dated dial-up service to an ad-driven Web publisher.