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Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

“Nonprofits, public media, and digital natives are all well versed in collaboration. But newspapers, which still employ a huge chunk of local journalists across the United States, aren’t.”

Collaborative journalism isn’t new, as I am happy tell you more about here and here and here and here.

But despite the fact that collaborative journalism is becoming commonplace across much of American media, the one group that hasn’t quite accepted it is local journalists.

Especially those who work for newspapers. Nonprofits, public media, and digital natives are all well versed in collaboration. But newspapers, which still employ a huge chunk of local journalists across the United States, aren’t.

I think (hope) that will change in 2019, because there’s so much to be gained from smart local news collaborations. Electionland in 2016 broke a lot of barriers when it came to collaboration, as many local reporters working with newspapers participated in that project. But now, two years later, I think we are finally really beginning to see the seeds of partnership in local journalism grow. Consider these three recent ones:

  • NJ.com is encouraging other journalists in New Jersey to dig into the police use-of-force database it compiled, going so far as to participate in webinars to train other local journos how to use the data.
  • The Bay Area News Group and McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee, two Northern California news organizations, are sharing stories, photos, and video.
  • The Invading Sea brought together the Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post and the Sun-Sentinel to collaborate on stories related to sea-level rise.

Equitable, strategic partnerships like these can help local journalists better serve the public interest. I hope this message makes it way across many more local newsrooms in 2019.

Stefanie Murray is the director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.

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