Before beginning his current position, Santa Cruz Patch editor Brad Kava was a journalism instructor at Cabrillo College—but remained skeptical about the future of journalism.
“I told them that this is like studying Shakespeare: you may not get jobs, but you’ll get an education,” said Kava, evoking laughter from an audience of around 60 people. They gathered to pay tribute to Santa Cruz Patch’s Friday night, mingling over food and music at the Museum of Art and History after Kava’s talk.
The longtime news veteran described how Santa Cruz Patch changed his mind about the state of journalism—showing him the new, interactive opportunities it provides from day one.
He began his tenure as editor just as a tragedy struck: a woman jumped to her death in Aptos during the morning commute. Kava and Watsonville Patch editor Jennifer Squires' initial reporting comprised only a few paragraphs, yet “the community told the story” through all their comments, he said.
“I saw how the site builds community, and lets the community tell their own news,” said Kava.
He highlighted the top stories Santa Cruz Patch featured during the past year, several which dug deep into Santa Cruz issues.
One piece Kava wrote, for example, exposed the fact that the week of a brutal rape that occurred there in 2008. Another who was forced to leave Santa Cruz because of the growing cost of living.
The website also covered locals who draw international attention, said Kava, such as Santa Cruz plus-size clothes designer Jill Alexander who was featured in London’s Curves in Couture, and up-and-coming movie makers who .
After Kava ran a story on on Jan. 4, Judd received 356 emails from people asking how they could help with her nonprofit, which raises money for the poorest women on earth.
Local performers and also shone in both the national and Santa Cruz spotlight, and national stories—like the Occupy Movement—were told through a lens, said Kava.
Local editor Jacob Bourne also presented Capitola-Soquel Patch, and pointed out the dialogues that the sites continue to foster through comments, blogs and other user-driven features in which writers and readers interact.
“We show our own face,” he said. “It turns into more of a conversation than just people spouting off.”
After Kava’s talk, the attendees mingled over eggplant sandwiches and pita bread with hummus from t, and listened to local jazz band Barney and the Dinosaurs perform in the museum atrium.
“I really think online media is the future,” Kevin Johnson, 24, one of Kava’s former students who is now studying photojournalism at San Jose State.
“It’s a wonderful local resource for news and events,” added Kristin Fabos, the director of Marketing and Communications at Cabrillo College.
Mayor Don Lane was also present, and praised Patch for its mission and impact on the community.
Throughout the event, Santa Cruz County Patch editors manned a table, generating sign-ups for Patch’s email newsletter. They were joined Silicon Valley regional editor Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar, West Coast Editorial Director Marcia Parker, Gilroy Patch guest editor Corinne Speckert.