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

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:

Other notable collaborations in this space:


Gun violence

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:


Community

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:


Sexual assault

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:

Other notable collaborations in this space:


Education

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:


Affordable housing

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:


Suicide

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:


Climate change

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:

Other notable collaborations in this space:


Policing

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:

Other notable collaborations in this space:


Journalism

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:

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 State University

Heather Bryant

Written by

Director of Project Facet, building the infrastructure for effective, meaningful collaboration with newsrooms. 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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