AOL’s Tim Armstrong (Bloomberg)

The skinny, via Hagey:

Patch will consolidate its four geographic zones into three by integrating the South and East zones, allowing it to cut some managers. No sites will be closed or merged and no local editors or ad managers will be affected.

By losing about 20 entries on its managerial payroll, writes Hagey, Patch and AOL chief Tim Armstrong are hoping to “pre-empt” a dissident investor — Starboard Value LP — that has been railing against Patch’s high costs.

Janine Iamunno, a spokeswoman for Patch, declined to address the Starboard situation. However, she noted that the cuts affect mostly “regional managers and regional salespeople,” noting that the editorial employees subject to the layoffs did not write for the sites on a regular basis.

That is to say, the Patch editors who work insane hours to bring hyper-multiple blog posts to their people in Northridge-Chatsworth (California), Georgetown! (D.C.), and Goose Creek (South Carolina) will continue working insane hours to bring hyper-multiple blog posts to their people in the future.

The Patch brain trust says that the cutbacks affirm the success of the site’s so-called OTOG strategy, short for “One Team, One Goal.” It entails extensive cooperation between local editors and salespeople, and Iamunno says that the layoffs are part of a restructuring program to fortify OTOG.

Fine, but Patch is also signaling that it has cost problems, just the way umpteen-hundred local news outlets do. In the online local news model, there’s no room for executives, no room for meeting jockeys — just for a bunch of stressed-out content providers and account managers, scrounging for stories and dollars from restaurants and independent businesses.