AOL's hyperlocal network Patch has announced plans for PatchU, a new network of partnerships with journalism schools offering students internships at Patch publications.

Patch, which launched in late 2007 and was bought by AOL last year, has already signed up 13 schools across the US to take part in the programme, including the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and founding partner Hofstra University School of Communication.

Students at Long Island's Hofstra University and other partnership schools can gain course credits working for Patch’s hyperlocal sites under the supervision of the publisher's local editors.

Last week CNN launched a similar initiative, iReport University, offering final-year students at selected journalism schools the opportunity to work on its iReport site.

According to a release, students participating in the Patch scheme will "learn to pitch and write stories, cover local events, shoot and edit photos and videos, integrate content with social media and produce stories online using Patch’s leading content management system".

Other partners include Stanford University Graduate Program in Journalism, the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism.

"Patch is committed to building strong relationships with colleges and universities that are preparing the journalists who will define the new media landscape.

"Our continuing rapid growth gives us an incredible opportunity to provide cutting edge, real-world experience in various communities across the country to students who will become tomorrow's editors and reporters, at Patch and elsewhere," says Warren Webster, president of Patch Media, in the release.

Patch launched its 100th site in August, announcing plans to increase that number to 500 and serve neighborhoods in 20 states by the end of 2010.

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