Collaborations that left a mark on 2019

A look at ten of the most exemplary collaborations of the year.

Heather Bryant
Dec 19, 2019 · 7 min read

There was a stunning array of collaborative journalism projects this year. Newsrooms dug into complicated stories, in-depth investigations, forward-thinking projects and some of the most difficult issues happening around the world. There’s no way we could properly recognize all the incredible work that was done this past year, but we want to highlight some of the influential work we saw from collaborating newsrooms.

This list isn’t in any specific order, but is instead grouped by the major themes we saw reflected in coverage.

Immigration

Detained: How the US built the world’s largest immigrant detention system

The stories and images from the southern U.S. border have hardly abated as we continue to learn more about the government’s shifting policies, tactics, and the inconsistencies in addressing people seeking asylum or attempting to migrate to the United States from Central and South America. One of the major components of this story is the network of detention facilities that attempt to avoid scrutiny. This collaboration from The Guardian and The Marshall Project investigated how the multi-billion dollar immigrant incarceration industry that stretches across the country came to be.

Partners:

The Guardian, The Marshall Project

Other notable collaborations in this space:

Gun violence

Since Parkland

Over the past year, there has been an average of nearly one school shooting per week across the United States. Since Parkland was a year long effort to report on child gun deaths with a unique difference from the most common gun violence reporting. The stories documented the lives of children killed in shootings during one year in the U.S. and they were written by teenage reporters.

Partners:

200 teenage reporters, Global Student Square, The Trace, The Miami Herald, McClatchy, NowThis

Community

Stories of Atlantic City

The Stories of Atlantic City collaboration is a unique and commendable effort to bring community members into the journalistic process to tell the restorative, untold stories of their lives and their community.

From the project site:

Restorative Narrative is a strengths-based approach to media making. This refers to journalism and storytelling that tells the deeper stories of people and communities experiencing adversity and taps into their strength and resilience to cope and grow. These stories can inspire audiences who see renewed potential for their own lives and communities and change perspectives by showing commonalities across differences.

The highly participatory and shared-power nature of this collaboration makes it a project that I hope to see replicated in more places.

Partners:

Free Press, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, Stockton University, Press of Atlantic City, Route 40, SJN, Breaking AC, The AC Times, and International Voices of Hope (ivoh)

Sexual assault

Seeking Conviction: Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors

This data-driven collaboration brought to light just how unlikely it is for sexual assault survivors to gain justice through North Carolina courts. The project spanned more than six months and 11 newsrooms that analyzed four and a half years of court data. The series examined the prosecution process, the discrepancies across counties and jurisdictions and the way state law complicates the process.

Partners:

Carolina Public Press, The Fayetteville Observer, The Herald Sun, Hickory Daily Record, The News & Observer, Greensboro News & Record, NC Health News, Winston-Salem Journal, WLOS ABC 13, WRAL, North Carolina Public Radio

Other notable collaborations in this space:

Education

The Quiet Rooms

This blockbuster story came to light near the end of the year but has already had a sizable impact in Illinois as schools, parents, and the government respond to this issue brought to light by a reporting partnership.

Partners:

The Chicago Tribune, ProPublica Illinois

Affordable housing

Parked: Half the American Dream

The affordability of housing is a newsworthy topic in every part of the United States. In Colorado, a coalition of more than a dozen newsrooms came together to zero in on a specific aspect of housing — the affordability of mobile homes — and report on how this last segment of affordable housing is increasingly threatened by the rising value of land.

Partners:

The Colorado Sun, The Aspen Times, Aurora Sentinel, Colorado Independent, Cortez Journal, Delta County Independent, Durango Herald, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Fox31-KDVR, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Greeley Tribune, KUNC, Montrose Daily Press, Ouray County Plaindealer, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Suicide

Breaking the Silence

As the suicide rate continues to climb in the U.S., Oregon newsrooms came together to report on what’s happening in their state and to “examine research into how prevention can and does work and offer our readers, listeners and viewers resources to help if they — or those they know — are in crisis.” The team assembled twice in 2019 to publish stories on the topic.

(The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1–800–273–8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.)

Partners:

Albany Democrat-herald, Beyond Well Podcast, Blue Mountain Eagle, Bridgeliner, The Chronicle, Corvallis Gazette-Times, Daily Emerald, East Oregonian, Eugene Weekly, Hermiston Herald, JPR, KATU, KBND, KGW, KOBI, KOIN, KPTV, KTVL, KTVZ, Lines For Life, The Lund Report, Mail Tribune, OPB, The Oregonian, Oregon Capital Bureau, The Pacific Index, Pamplin Media, Portland Business Journal, Salem Reporter, The Statesman Journal, Solutions Journalism Network, Street Roots, Willamette Week, Wilsonville Spokesman

Climate change

Destined to Burn

Year after year, thousands of acres of California go up in flames, accompanied by a loss of life, structures and wildlife. This project took on this topic with a forward-facing and analytical exploration of California’s present and future relationship with wildfire.

Partners:

Sacramento Bee, Chico Enterprise-Record, Paradise Post, Redding Record Searchlight, Reno Gazette-Journal, Ventura County Star, The Desert Sun, Associated Press

Other notable collaborations in this space:

Policing

California’s criminal cops

The were myriad stories this year about police and the justice system. This project revealed the scale of police officers that remain on the job despite their own criminal pasts, thanks to a state law that gives local departments the power to decide what to do with problem officers.

Partners:

Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, Bay Area News Group, Southern California News Group, The Desert Sun, Ventura County Star, Redding Record Searchlight, Salinas Californian, Visalia Times Delta, Voice of San Diego, Reveal, Chico-Enterprise Record, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Eureka Times-Standard, Lake County Record-Bee, Monterey County Herald, Sacramento Bee, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Merced Sun-Star, Modesto Bee, Fresno Bee

Other notable collaborations in this space:

Journalism

Unbias the News

In a year where talking about the work of journalism itself has been a prominent part of national and international debates, a collaboration focused on what journalism is and should be is a notable addition to this list. Unbias the News brought together dozens of journalists from around the world to talk about barriers they face in their work.

Partners:

44 authors and editors from around the world

Other notable collaborations in this space:

Have you worked on a collaborative journalism project? We’d love to hear about it. Add your project to the Collaborative Journalism Database.

Heather Bryant is the founder of Project Facet and the collaborative journalism coordinator for the Center. She can be reached on Twitter at @hbcompass.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair…

Heather Bryant

Written by

Deputy Director of Product @NewsCatalyst. Founder of @ProjectFacet, supporting effective, meaningful collaboration. The future of journalism is collaborative.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

Heather Bryant

Written by

Deputy Director of Product @NewsCatalyst. Founder of @ProjectFacet, supporting effective, meaningful collaboration. The future of journalism is collaborative.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

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