Rumor: Patch to partner with Maryland J-school

A source (uh, a friend) informed me that Patch, the new hyper-local blogging initiative from AOL, will be linked up with a class at Maryland, where students will contribute to local Patch blogs to gain clips and news experience. Rumor mill alert: I do not have 100 percent confirmation. But the class supposedly is beginning next semester.

The New York Times has a similar program, allowing journalism students to cover Brooklyn behind their nameplate.

A news release speaks to something similar, but doesn’t say anything about UMD. Instead the release trumpets PatchU:

PatchU, a new network of partnerships between local Patch online publications and leading journalism schools, colleges and universities to help prepare the next generation of journalists for successful careers

I don’t see anything in the UMD course catalog to specifically speak to Patch, but perhaps it is part of this:

JOUR 355 Online News Bureau (3) Prerequisites: JOUR 352 and permission of department. Advanced online journalism training. Students work as online reporters, editors and producers for an online newsmagazine. Students also package copy from the print and broadcast news bureaus.

Upon my recent graduation from the school, students had to have 10 published clips to pass Journalism 320 as well as an internship. Currently unclear if this class would satisfy either of these requirements.

The news can be taken two ways: Young journalists will get an opportunity to get their feet wet online, or, students will be paying to give AOL free labor. Either way, it is an interesting idea, and likely more valuable than learning how to lay out pages, a serious dinosaur task, for sure.

Addendum: Right now there is no shortage of writing opportunities for the youngins. Write your own blog, intern at a small newspaper or even write for Patch, and get paid! I know this is an option for students as Patch tries to get warm bodies on their staff. Writing for Patch is currently possible even without attending this class.

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