Patch U Makes the Student Connection — At Scale
Sep 22, 2010
We’ve seen a fair amount of partnering between journalism schools and news websites, many of them newspaper-related. In the Bay Area, here, I’ve followed Mission Local, a significant local effort covering a largely Latino, under-covered neighborhood of San Francisco. That’s been a partnership of UC Berkeley’s Grad School of Journalism, providing five interns, and local Mission residents. It produces lots of good journalism — and new models to produce it.
Today, Patch (Newsonomics: “Nine Questions on Patch’s Push“) showed some smarts, acting on similar ideas — but with scale. It has signed agreements with 13 journalism schools, from CUNY to USC (and including UC Berkeley) to provide for-credit (not pay) internships with Patch sites. The program grows out of a test at Hofstra, with Bob Papper, the chair of journalism there and a smart commentator on broadcast media change. The J-schools involved include a number of top-tier ones.
Take that number, 13, though and multiply it; Patch Media President Warren Webster confirms that there can be more than one intern per site. Most importantly, Patch’s clustering of local websites in metro areas should mean we’ll see dozens, if not hundreds, of internships grow out of this new relationship. Such numbers would provide one answer to those who wonder how the Patch business model will develop. Patch is simply acting on a key principle of getting good content cheaper (or free in this case), one that everyone from HuffPo to Demand Media to the New York Times is using as well.
Quite smart. There have been other newspaper/j-school internships/partnerships, but this one uses scale — 13 schools, and, lots of free help at Patch sites in metro areas. Last year, I wrote about a News Corps idea, as a way to reinvigorate local journalism. Patch’s approach begins to do that, though I do wonder about one key element of all internships — mentoring. In Patch’s case, the site editors largely work solo, out of their homes, and many are not far out of journalism school themselves. Will their mentoring — further squeezed into very long days — be that useful? How, alternatively, will Patch figure out how to have their regional editors, who are more experienced editors, do some mentoring effectively? If the company is smart, it will devote the thinking and resources necessary to make the program valuable for all, Patch, students and readers.
The initiative proves the proposition that it’s not the idea or invention, it’s the rapid application that makes the most business sense. What we’re talking about here is innovation; not invention of internships, but the rapid usage of new kind of internship system applied at some scale. The scale immediately makes Patch U, as the project is called, something to be noticed, and significantly adds to the amount of coverage that Patch can put on its websites.
Schools participating: Hofstra University’s School of Communication; The City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism; the Missouri School of Journalism; the University of Connecticut Department of Journalism; the Indiana University School of Journalism; the Stanford University Graduate Program in Journalism; the Columbia College Chicago Journalism Department; the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism; the Seton Hall Department of Communication and The Arts; and the Quinnipiac University Department of Journalism.