Here are the top journalism collaborations of 2022

Democracy, lotteries, climate, mental health and ‘Shadow Diplomats’

Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media
8 min readDec 16, 2022


As we all close out 2022, I’m pausing — as I do annually — to reflect on some of the most important and impactful news collaborations of the year.

It’s pretty easy to compile this list. That’s because partnerships in journalism are common and widely recognized (finally). So much so, in fact, that we’re seeing the field organically branch out to other forms of partnership.

While this list is primarily focused on editorial work for 2022, I would be remiss not to recognize other collaborative efforts that go far beyond editorial efforts. That’s why URL Media, the Statewide News Collective and others are highlighted.

The Center also published a thorough research paper earlier this year examining how civil society organizations partner with journalists, with both doing so to increase impact. I have a strong (and well-informed) feeling that those collaborations will skyrocket in the coming year.

So without further introduction, here are the 11 best for 2022. Note that this list mostly focuses on English-language U.S. collaborations.

URL Media

When media powerhouses Sara Lomax-Reese and S. Mitra Kalita joined forces two years ago to launch URL Media, you knew it was going to be something special.

And it’s become that and so much more. URL Media — the URL standing for uplift, respect and love—is a multiplatform network of Black and brown news organizations across the U.S. that share content, distribution, advertising and more.

URL currently boasts 15 high-performing news organizations and will likely expand in 2023.

Covering Climate Collaborative

The Local Media Association launched its Covering Climate Collaborative in mid-2021 to support and amplify climate reporting by local newsrooms in the U.S. It currently has more than two dozen members that support one another and share content.

That’s all great, but there’s more: The collaborative worked with Distributed Media Lab to build a content sharing platform that launched in June. Anyone who has worked with collaboratives knows the inherent friction involved in sharing content, and the lack of solutions outside of the Associated Press’s StoryShare tool.

The DML tool helps newsrooms tag, source, sort and gather “collections” of relevant stories and makes it easy to embed on a website. It’s a straightforward concept that we’ll likely see spread.

The Statewide News Collective

The Statewide News Collective is a new peer network supporting the editorial, revenue and product operations of of more than 27 news organizations that serve (you guessed it!) statewide audiences.

The Collective was started through a collaboration of RevLab at The Texas Tribune, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Spotlight PA. The Collective also aims to engage untapped or underserved audiences and meet their information needs in an equitable way, as well as explore opportunities to widen the top of the funnel and reach audiences beyond highly engaged readers.

This is awesome for several reasons, not the least of which is its strength in numbers: Already representing more than half the country, this well-facilitated group has endless possibilities ahead.

U.S. Democracy Day

The Democracy Day collaboration was organized by a group of journalists (including us at the Center for Cooperative Media!) who came together on Twitter to brainstorm a nationwide reporting effort focused on democracy in the United States.

The team behind the collaboration—which included me, Rachel Glickhouse of the News Revenue Hub, Bridget Thoreson of the Institute for Nonprofit News, and Jenn Brandel of Hearken—modeled the collaboration on the work of Covering Climate Now, Votebeat and the Rebuild Local News Coalition, among others. We recruited almost 400 newsrooms from across the country (half of those in the USA Today Network) that published dozens of stories, editorials and posts on Sept. 15, 2022, the International Day of Democracy.

And, we’re just getting started: You’ll hear a lot more from Democracy Day in 2023 as we ramp up for 2024.

Mega Billions: The great lottery wealth transfer

Anytime Kathy Best’s name pops up on my screen, I know I’m about to see something amazing. And that was the case with “Mega Billions.”

Mega Billions” was a first-of-its-kind collaboration between The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland (Kathy’s the director) and Boston University. They used mobile-phone location data and other sources to investigate the massive transfer of wealth facilitated by state lotteries.

Students from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism used mobile-phone location data to show that the majority of customers at lottery retailers come from nearby, disproportionately Black, Hispanic, and lower-income neighborhoods. They also examined marketing and advertising documents, state spending records, and other sources to follow the money from the sale of a scratch-off ticket and show who was really benefiting from that spending. The end result was a package of stories that shed light on a multibillion-dollar industry that has become increasingly powered by multinational corporations.

Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Sara Shipley Hiles and Tegan Wendland are forces of nature, so it’s no surprise they’ve been leading some fantastic work at the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk.

The Desk is a collaboration between journalists and newsrooms that aims to enhance the quantity, quality and impact of journalism on agriculture, water and related issues throughout the Mississippi River Basin. ICYMI, the Mississippi River Basin spans almost half of the continental United States and is home to millions of residents who rely on the river system for drinking water, commerce and recreation. The region is also home to most of America’s agricultural exports, including over three-quarters of the world’s exports in feed grains.

In its first six months, the Desk’s reporters have created more than 250 stories including its first big collaborative project, “When It Rains,” about increasing rainfall throughout the basin. There are currently have about 45 regular distribution partners plus more for individual stories.

And they’re just getting started.

Shadow Diplomats

It’s impossible not to include work from ICIJ every year on this list. Absolutely IMPOSSIBLE, because they keep breaking news and shining a light into the darkest corners of power on the planet.

This time it’s with “Shadow Diplomats,” a massive investigation that marked the very first collaboration between the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and ProPublica. It aimed to shed light on the little-examined role of honorary consuls in international diplomacy.

Honorary consuls are “volunteer diplomats who work from their home countries to promote the interests of foreign governments, typically in places without an embassy or consulate.” The investigation involved more than 160 journalists from 46 countries.

The team identified at least 500 current and former honorary consuls who had been accused of crimes or embroiled in controversy. Some of these consuls had been convicted of serious offenses or caught exploiting their status for personal gain, while others had drawn criticism for their support of authoritarian regimes. The investigation prompted action in two countries before it was published, with Germany and Austria announcing the dismissal of one consul in Brazil and another consul in Switzerland announcing his resignation.

Community News Collaborative

This next collaborative is so interesting to me because of how it was launched: Locals identified a gap in news and a local foundation stepped in to fill it. Can we please replicate this all over the country?!

The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and WUSF Public Media launched the Community News Collaborative (CNC) earlier this year, a journalism collaboration that aims to significantly expand coverage of news in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.

The project was jumpstarted with a gift of almost $600,000 from the Barancik Foundation, which was used to hire an editor and four multimedia reporters. These reporters created print, video, and audio content that was syndicated to more than a dozen news outlets across the Gulf Coast. The news team was based in Sarasota and provided news articles and multimedia packages to a range of local news outlets.

Great Salt Lake Collaborative

The Solutions Journalism Network collaboratives keep kicking ass across the U.S. (hello, Resolve Philly!), which is a huge testament to leader Liza Gross’s vision. When she paired up with a team of news organizations in Utah this year, more magic happened.

In 2022, the Great Salt Lake Collaborative was founded by 23 news, education and media organizations in Utah. The group came together to raise awareness about the crisis facing the Great Salt Lake and to explore potential solutions.

The collaboration included organizations such as the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Public Radio. The focus, of course, is on using solutions journalism to tell the entire story about the challenges facing the lake and potential solutions.

They even won this year’s Current’s Local That Works contest. (Here is the great video they made for the contest!) Their momentum is “remarkable,” according to Amy Maestas, the director of collaboratives at SJN.

Sinking Cities

This global project was (and is!) sorely needed.

Led by Unbias The News and Hostwriter, The Sinking Cities Project is a collaborative effort that brings together journalists from around the world to investigate the impact of sea-level rise on major cities and how governments are responding.

Over the course of six months, local journalists worked to investigate how coastal cities are preparing for the threats posed by rising sea levels, which have the potential to affect communities, ecosystems, and economies all over the world. The cities they examined include Lagos, Karachi, Dhaka, Rotterdam and Dublin.

Mental Health Parity Collaborative

The Mental Health Parity Collaborative was an ambitious reimagining of a fellowship program hosted by The Carter Center. It launched in early January and was led by Nora Fleming.

The multistate partnership involved newsrooms in six states and focused on exploring access to and inequities in mental health care in the U.S. About 40 reporters and editors from a dozen outlets plus the Center for Public Integrity, which served as a national anchor.

Stories included a look at how climate change has affected mental health, how jails fail to help people with mental illnesses and expanding access to Native American practices to treat mental health.

Other important stories and research we saw in collaboration this year:

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

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, 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



Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media

Director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.