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March 14, 2019, 10:07 a.m.
Reporting & Production

Nine local partners in Charlotte form a new reporting collaborative, with Solutions Journalism Network and the Knight Foundation

“Gone are the days when a single news organization had the resources to dominate local news coverage, or when multiple news organizations would enter fierce competition to ‘win’ on the same local story.”

Continuing its efforts at building local journalism collaborations, the Solutions Journalism Network is partnering with the Knight Foundation to launch a nine-member collaborative focused on Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative will be comprised of:

  1. The Charlotte Observer
  2. Latinx-focused La Noticia
  3. Tegna-owned WCNC-TV
  4. QCity Metro serving the African American community
  5. NPR news station WFAE 90.7 FM
  6. LGBTQ-geared QNotes
  7. The Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte
  8. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and
  9. News advocacy/community engagement group Free Press.

It will spend its first year jointly reporting on the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte, based in a metropolitan area of 2 million people, beginning this spring. (The grant lasts for two years with the hopes of the collaborative, according to Knight, “grow to include other media organizations and become self-sustaining.”) A Charlotte Observer story last month described the crisis:

The Charlotte region’s population increased by 15 percent between 2010 and 2017, while the number of housing units grew by 10 percent, according to the report. Richard Buttimer, director of the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate at UNCC, told a crowd at the college’s uptown campus that the key driver of Charlotte’s economic growth — its low cost of living — is at risk.

The number of vacant units declined as the market had to accommodate additional population growth without enough supply. Now, Charlotte’s vacancy rate of around 7 percent is among the lowest compared to its peer cities like Atlanta and Indianapolis, according to the report.

This initiative is similar to the Solutions Journalism Network spinoff project Broke in Philly, spearheaded by Resolve Philadelphia. That’s the second iteration of a collaborative involving The Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY, Technial.ly, NBC10/Telemundo62, Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, and others. Broke in Philly zeroed in on economic inequality in the Philadelphia area.

“At a time when local journalism jobs are disappearing and trust in media has hit an all-time low, the Solutions Journalism Network has taken on the challenge by organizing collaborative journalism reporting projects that promote excellent reporting and civic dialogue. The model has the potential to be part of a new wave of great local reporting, which is vital to building strong communities,” Karen Rundlet, Knight’s director for journalism, said in announcing the collaborative.

Knight is putting up $150,000; separately, it pledged $300 million for journalism (mostly local) earlier this year. The foundation (surprise) foreshadowed its focus on collaboration this year with its 2019 prediction for Nieman Lab, highlighting Resolve Philadelphia’s work and noting it has also helped fund the Detroit Journalism Collaborative, though that is less topically driven:

Gone are the days when a single news organization had the resources to dominate local news coverage, or when multiple news organizations would enter fierce competition to “win” on the same local story.

While competition used to drive strong news coverage and accountability reporting, a new information environment driven by technology and battling today’s challenges — from misinformation to declining trust in media — demand solutions from a variety of sources and players. In 2019, we’ll see an increase in multidisciplinary collaboration among sectors, institutions, and news organizations working to better serve local audiences.

How much impact can one news outlet have? We’re about to see how much six (+ three other partners) can do.

Map of the Charlotte area via Snazzy Maps.

POSTED     March 14, 2019, 10:07 a.m.
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