Reaching the Summit: Grad calls the shots for Patch website

By Jaclyn Thomas —

As an editor for Patch, a local news and information website owned by AOL, one has to be writer, photographer, videographer — and sometimes even help the ad salesperson.

Caitlin Mahon covers and edits community events, local government and controversial issues in the town of Summit and its surroundings.

A keen understanding of online journalism is a must.

Caitlin Mahon, J/MS 2010, is one such quadruple threat. She runs the Patch website for Summit, one of the largest of Patch’s 91 websites in New Jersey. She covers local government, controversial issues, events and fun things to do in the community.

She was recently promoted from editor of New Providence-Berkeley Heights Patch. However, she still acts as sports beat editor for the New Providence-Berkeley Heights site as well as for Springfield Patch.

She loves the flexible hours and mixture of jam-packed days to relaxed days where she answers emails that pile up daily. It is very different from her three years on The Targum, where she was writer and editor and completed her career there as news editor.

“Going from The Daily Targum to Patch was almost seamless because much of what I learned at Targum could be applied to Patch,” said the 26-year-old Mahon.

Campus life was hectic, she noted, because, along with Targum, she was choreographer for the Performing Dance Company and a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority.

During her Targum tenure, she tackled issues affecting the university community, including the controversial expansion of Rutgers Stadium and the ongoing housing shortage that placed hundreds of students in off-campus hotels for two years.

She also covered a Barack Obama election rally in Chicago in 2008 and led coverage of the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial race.

While classes and J/MS professors such as Michael Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Fuerst were able to reach Mahon academically, it was the experiences outside the classroom that prepared her for the professional field, she said. Through J/MS she completed internships at The Home News Tribune, Good Housekeeping magazine, Nets basketball, and SoBe Beverages and PepsiCo.

Does this mean students should save money on textbooks and catch some beauty sleep over attending class? Think again.

“The opportunities are there, but you’re going to have to go out of your way to get them,” said Mahon. In-class experience, internships and connections will help young journalists blossom, said Mahon.

Mahon has fond memories of Rutgers, especially of football.

“I remember rushing the field during one game with my friends as Brian Leonard climbed up on the stands and was celebrating in front of the old student section,” she recalled. “Hands down, the best football game.”

She returns to campus often, especially for football games.

When Mahon is not glued to her computer screen or running around Summit covering events, games and interviewing residents, she can be found hiking in the Watchung Reservation, visiting Long Beach Island, skiing the slopes in Vermont (she recently broke her leg in a skiing mishap), or spending time with her family in Forked River, where her two Husky-Chow mix dogs miss her very much.