Patch.com, AOL’s hyperlocal news experiment, is rolling out a new site today. In true new media fashion, the company designed the mobile site first, and the new format places heavy emphasis on social elements.

I got a preview of it on Friday from co-founder and CEO Jon Brod, chief content officer Rachel Feddersen and creative director Abel Lenz, who enthusiastically introduced the site as a shift from the soap-box model to a town square model. “This is a platform for communities to better organize day to day life,” said Feddersen, “we’re about making lives in towns better.”

So what’s different about the new Patch? According to Brod, it’s “the marriage of Journalism with a big J and the social elements of a community platform.” Read more