EIC Brian Farnham: Patch Test is ‘Grueling In a Good Way’

Internet eyebrows were raised over a description of Patch.com’s hiring process written by a graduating senior in Penn State University’s Daily Collegian, after Poynter tweeted it.

Finally, I heard about a company called Patch.com from an alumnus who also worked for The Daily Collegian. He told me they were hiring journalists to run Web sites in suburban towns across the country covering community events where the local media coverage needed a boost.

In the scope of positions I was looking at, nothing combined web, multimedia and writing quite like this. It was the trifecta position, and I decided to go for it.

After many phone interviews and a grueling writing test that lasted almost four hours, I was offered a job and verbally accepted immediately.

The otherwise innocuous tale is gaining traction because it follows anonymous reports that Patch is a “sweatshop” that demands 24/7 work for little payThe Observer checked in with Patch Editor in Chief Brian Farnham to find out what the test looks like. 

“It’s grueling in a good way,” Farnham says. It invoves taking the rough materials of a story–“like pages from a reporter’s notebook”–and turning it into an article, as a way to test writing skills and fact/allegation discrimination. It also includes a digital component to test how writers promote stories.

The test is timed and intentionally high pressure and designed to mimic the job itself, which Farnham admits is round the clock. 

“It gives both sides an opportunity to say ‘is this right for me?'” he says.

The test was designed by a regional editor and has been adapted over time.

Before working for Patch, Farnham was Editor in Chief of Time Out New York.


EIC Brian Farnham: Patch Test is ‘Grueling In a Good Way’