Annenberg students partner with online media site
Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:45 pm in News
The Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism has partnered with AOLâs online news source, Patch.com, as part of a new PatchU program, which unites the site with 13 journalism programs at universities across the nation.
Patch provides comprehensive hyperlocal news to cities that typically do not receive much media attention, said William Nance, vice president of developing business group at Patch Media.
âWeâre committed to being a member of the community. Thatâs how we build business up,â he said.
The hyperlocal business model of reporting news in specific cities has helped Patch grow into a trusted news source for local issues in cities around the nation, Nance said.
Since it began reporting in three cities in New Jersey in February 2009, Patch has grown to cover the news in numerous cities across 16 states and Washington, D.C. Patch launched a site in its 100th community in August, and AOL announced plans to expand to more than 500 neighborhoods in 20 states by the end of the year.
To help reach out to a different kind of community, Patch began the PatchU program, where journalism students will work with Patch editors to report on local news in areas near their campuses.
âOver time we expect to expand to other universities,â Nance said. âIt helps us become a part of the discussions around the future of journalism.â
Annenbergâs involvement with PatchU began when Marcia Parker, West Coast editorial director for Patch, collaborated with Sandy Tolan, an associate professor of journalism at Annenberg, after the two worked together on a state-wide investigative reporting project in March.
âWe talked about how we could do something that was really local but also had depth,â Tolan said. âI originally thought of the idea of having all the reporting for one class be in one square mile of a city.â
Now a reality, Tolanâs âOne Square Mileâ launched this fall with eight students who cover one square mile of Westfield in Culver City.
âItâs not really like a class; I consider it more of an editor-reporter relationship. Itâs almost run as workshops that try to replicate what itâs like in the newsroom,â Tolan said.
Students are responsible for hunting down stories about education, crime, entertainment and culture in the area, Tolan said. She and Parker edit the studentsâ stories before sending them to local Patch editors who cover Culver City.
âWeâre inventing this [project] as we go â the spirit of invention and innovation is at the heart of this,â Tolan said. âWeâre among a group of schools that are trying to help lead students into an uncertain world of multimedia journalism.â
School of Journalism Director Geneva Overholser said the partnership fits into a larger scope of collaborations between USC and other media organizations.
âThis class creates interesting journalism at a time when journalism is reinventing itself,â she said. âOne of the most promising aspects [of new journalism] is collaborations.â
Tolan agreed that this project is a way for Annenberg to help lead students into an uncertain world of multimedia journalism.
Because Patch feels the pressure of the changes and challenges in the field of journalism, it has enlisted the help of the universities through PatchU, Nance said.
âAnnenberg is one of the top journalism programs in the U.S.,â he said. âWeâve got such a focus on good journalists; Patch wants to make sure they have good partnerships with good journalism programs.â
So far, there are no set plans for Annenberg to continue with the PatchU program after this semester, Overholser said. Patch hopes, however, that this partnership will continue to benefit both itself and Annenberg, Nance said.
âIt helps [Patch] become a part of the discussions around the future of journalism [and] what content and economic models will work,â Nance said. âWe want to be in a relationship where these conversations are occurring.â