The year collaboration beats competition

“Think about how much faster the industry would move if there was less focus on beating your competitor and more focus on learning from them.”

For as long as they’ve existed, most newsrooms have viewed other newsrooms as competition to be kept at a safe distance. Technology companies, a much more recent addition to the journalism ecosystem, have been seen as even more foreign — an alternate species that doesn’t even speak the same language. But as technology continues to change the way news and information is created and shared, we can no longer afford to operate in silos. Collaboration has become essential, even urgent, and we’ll see more of it in 2017 than in any previous year to date.

olivia-maThe internet has given us access to more information sources than ever before, and high quality journalism serves a uniquely important role in providing people with trusted information. As trust in media is challenged and the economic challenges facing news organizations continue, the newsrooms who produce this journalism and the technology companies who surface and distribute it will come together this year. By joining forces, they’ll be able to better identify and serve the needs of their shared audiences and pool resources where it makes sense.

In 2017, we’ll see collaboration:

  • Between newsrooms: As the basic facts around the news of the day becomes more commoditized, it doesn’t make sense for every single newsroom to be verifying the same piece of information during a breaking news story. Newsrooms will start to work together during major news events to collaboratively verify the facts and focus on the enterprise reporting that sets them apart.
  • Between technology companies: A lot of the problems tech companies are wrestling with are hard and we can be working together on solutions that benefit the news ecosystem as a whole.
  • Between newsrooms and technology companies: News organizations and platforms are in this together, and we’ll make significantly more impact by collectively identifying problems and solutions rather than doing it independently.

There are great examples of collaboration and coalition building that are paving the way, including First Draft, Journalism360, the Trust Project, and Electionland. Each of these projects has brought together coalitions of newsrooms and technology companies to join forces to tackle a big challenge together.

More coalitions will crop up in 2017 and those that already exist will be strengthened. These alliances will focus on sharing knowledge, best practices, and case studies, with the ultimate goal of avoiding duplication of effort. It doesn’t make sense for each newsroom to reinvent the wheel — think about how much faster the industry would move if there was less focus on beating your competitor and more focus on learning from them. We’ll get much higher if we’re building on top of each other’s shoulders.

Olivia Ma is head of partnerships for the Google News Lab.

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