New Patch outlet starts in Iowa City

BY ZACHARY POUND | JUNE 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City’s residents now have four sources to get their news.

And even in a tough time for the news business, experts and local competitors said the local launch of Patch.org — an online news organization that focuses on community engagement — would have a positive effect on local residents and publications.

“Adding another news outlet will keep everybody who is reporting on their toes,” said Jane Singer, a University of Iowa associate professor of journalism.

Managers at Patch said the organization is run by professional editors, writers, photographers, and videographers who live in or near the communities they serve, and they are supported by the New York City headquarters. Patch was founded in March 2010.

Patch also gets advice from its Editorial Advisory Board and members of the community, said Sherry Skalko, the Midwest editorial director for the organization.

Iowa City’s Patch, run by Daily Iowan alum Stephen Schmidt, ran its first story on June 1, making it the first Patch outlet in Iowa — an opening officials said they were excited about. Patch is now running in 22 states.

“We are looking forward to becoming part of the news ecosystem in Iowa and to working with other local news sources in bringing meaningful news to the residents of Iowa City,” Skalko said.

Patch is big on community feedback and having locals decide what’s important in terms of local news, she said.

Stephen Berry, a UI associate professor of journalism, said he believed adding another news outlet to the area would ensure great journalistic reporting, benefiting everyone.

“With Patch, it is going to be hyper-local,” he said. “It is going to primarily focused on local government and occurrences that have to do with Iowa City.”

Berry, interim executive director IowaWatch.org — a nonprofit investigative news operation — said his organization plans to work with Patch to coordinate news stories and ensure accuracy.

Berry said IowaWatch.org frequently collaborates with other Iowa news organizations.

And the competition agreed, welcoming the prospect of having another competing news source.

“Do I think that another news source is viable in Iowa City? Of course I do,” said Anne Schulte, lead print editor at SourceMedia Group in Cedar Rapids. “Another online news source will make us better in the competition, and I’m not worried about a sudden mass exodus of readers.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Patch operates in 22 states. That version also misattributed information about Patch to Sherry Skalko. The Daily Iowan regrets the errors.

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