AOL must be thrilled to be getting so much good PR for Patch: pretty much every story that has appeared about the hyperlocal initiative lately has been positive. “Sure, these kids work hard, but doesn’t everyone when they’re starting out in journalism?” has been sort of the narrative.

Well, unless you’re this person. But the Chicago Reader took a look at the new Patches sprouting up in the suburbs of Chicago and found mostly happy, eager journos.

“I’m live tweeting, I’m sending live pictures as he’s voting, and I mean it’s so awesome,” Sara Fay, 22, rather breathlessly told the Reader. “Some of the campaign staffers, when I’m introducing myself, they said, ‘Oh, I’ve seen your tweets already,’ And I said, ‘That’s probably what you saw me doing when I was packing my tools ten feet away from here.’” Fay’s a recent Medill grad; she’s now covering the suburbs of Winnetka and Glencoe.

Fay, like most Patch local editors, makes around $40,000, the Reader says, while her freelancers make about $200 a week—”a sum of money that is what it is.”

So is Patch, as journalism professor Robert Hernandez wanted to know, evil? That question is still up in the air for the local bloggers who feel that a corporate giant is intruding on their turf. But for the j-school grads working their butts off?

As the Chicago Reader notes, “You can’t exploit someone who doesn’t think she’s exploited. And when you’re 22, flinging the news giddily to the winds like so much confetti…you don’t.”