Citizen journalism is back on the bus for the 2012 presidential election with AOL Huffington Post Media Group’s relaunch of OffTheBus.

OffTheBus will combine the efforts of The Huffington Post’s political team in Washington, D.C., with the Patch network of more than 800 hyperlocal news sites, and contributions from citizen journalists.

The editorial team for OffTheBus will include: AOL Huffington Post Media Group social editor Mandy Jenkins, PatchU relationship manager Andi Morrison, Patch director of multimedia and news integration John Ness, and AOL Huffington Post Media Group editorial director Howard Fineman.

Its advisory board will include: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian; Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Jon Meacham, executive editor and executive vice president at Random House and Pulitzer-winning former Newsweek editor; Teresa Rodriguez, award-winning Univision correspondent; Shelby Coffey, trustee of the Newseum and former editor of the Los Angeles Times; and Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief, CEO, and president of ProPublica.

AOL Huffington Post Media Group president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington said:

When we launched OffTheBus in partnership with Jay Rosen in 2008, our goal was to tap into the desire of citizens to help report the news, not just to consume it. And we were elated by the enthusiastic response we received from thousands of eager contributors from across the country. Working collectively, OffTheBus was able to significantly impact how the election was covered, and we’re excited to build an even more engaging and dynamic citizen journalism platform for 2012. OffTheBus will be enhanced by the broad scope of The Huffington Post and Patch and a talented, experienced, and savvy editorial team. We’re also delighted to be working with an advisory group of esteemed journalists who will hopefully inspire citizen journalists while helping provide them with guidelines on how to contribute most effectively.

With its hyperlocal focus, Patch has the ability to be the eyes and ears for what is happening at the grassroots level all across the country. By expanding to key primary states, Patch positions itself squarely on the front lines of the presidential campaign and will be able to deliver a real-time snapshot of how pivotal communities are reacting to candidates — as well as immediate feedback on whether the issues that matter most to these towns are being addressed.

Fineman added:

OffTheBus was a groundbreaking way of covering an election that not only altered how we look at citizen journalists, but the 2008 campaign itself — who can forget “Bitter-gate,” a game-changing scoop by one of our contributors, Mayhill Fowler? We want to combine an innovative approach to campaign coverage — including crowd-powered methods of newsgathering — with The Huffington Post’s singular engagement platform, plugged-in D.C. team, powerful distribution capabilities, and Patch’s amazing breadth across the country. OffTheBus will be well-positioned for even greater heights this time around, powered by a sense of civic duty in people all across the country who want to be active participants in covering the 2012 campaigns.