This summer, Patch will be partnering with the Dow Jones News Fund to provide their summer interns with a unique experience: Interns will complete a week-long training program at Western Kentucky University before heading back to their prospective posts across the country. Not only are travel expenses and housing covered, interns get an hourly wage and will receive a $1000 scholarship upon completing the program.
All in all, about 40 students will be selected in 18 states. The program will have two start dates: early June through August and mid-June through the first week of September. “[We’re looking for] someone who’s really passionate about community journalism,” Andi Morrison, college recruiter at Patch, told 10,000 Words. “That kind of entrepreneurial spirit is the first thing I really look for.” To apply, students should have some online journalism experience, whether it’s writing for campus media or freelancing for a local news outlet.
Once they’ve been accepted, interns will travel to Western Kentucky University for the week-long training program, in collaboration with the Dow Jones News Fund. Though this program has been going on for several years, this is the first year it will be Patch-specific. “[The students] already have basic journalism skills,” said Pam McAllister Johnson, journalism professor at Western Kentucky University and director of digital workshops at the Dow Jones News Fund. “What we want to do is show them how to apply those skills in the newsroom.”
Students are divided into groups of three, and each team will work on a piece of enterprise journalism. The program is modeled after a real newsroom, and “true to journalists, they are very competitive against the other teams,” said Johnson. Interns will select a news enterprise topic, and by the end of the week, have completed the main story, plus audio, data, video and photography elements to go along with it. The final product will be published on the DJNF’s website. You can see some of the past projects here, here and here. “We try to stay ahead of what the industry wants in terms of skills,” said Johnson, noting that there are seminars on data visualization, SEO and mobile (among others). There are also a handful of specialists walking around to answer any queries that arise during the process.
After completing the training program, interns go back to their prospective locations. Morrison said that interns can expect to assume a role similar to that of a junior editor or associate editor: pitching stories, covering events, social media and community engagement. “They can expect to get 75 to 100 bylines over the course of the summer, from breaking news to longer form pieces,” she said.
While Patch regularly hires former interns after they graduate, there’s obviously not enough positions for everyone. Part of the reason for this collaboration is that the DJNF has a strong alumni network for recent grads to reach out to. “We’re creating strong journalists to go out into the field whether that’s at Patch or elsewhere,” said Morrison.