Two student newspapers are teaming up to cover college sports in New Jersey
Student journalists tend to have a lot on their plates. At any given moment — in between going to classes, studying for exams, doing homework, attending internships, and (hopefully) getting some sleep — they can usually be found around campus, hunched over their laptops, frantically churning out stories for their campus publication.
Since the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University studies collaboration, we knew that collaborative efforts could really benefit student journalists, in a wide variety of ways.
So we were thrilled to learn that editors at Montclair State University’s campus newspaper, The Montclarion, and The Whit Online at Rowan University decided to team up to cover their respective college sports teams.
Anthony Gabbianelli, sports editor at The Montclarion, recently attended a New Jersey College News Commons launch event, where he was introduced to the concept of collaborative journalism. The idea stuck, and Gabbianelli decided to reach out to Jaiden Campana, sports editor at The Whit, to talk about a potential publishing partnership between the two college papers.
“Jaiden [Campana] and I were talking about some of the common problems we have when it comes to covering away games,” Gabbianelli said, “and we realized that we both end up with huge gaps in our coverage when that happens.”
Student publications often operate on limited budgets and time constraints, just like professional publications. But being in school can make it especially hard for student publications to find someone to cover those games when teams are on the road, the editors said.
“I would never ask a reporter to go anywhere unless they live down there and are going to be in the area anyway,” Gabbianelli said.
Gabbianelli and Campana agreed to try out a co-publishing arrangement. Reporters for The Montclarion cover home games at Montclair State and reporters for The Whit do the same for home games at Rowan.
“His writer got it done and sent me the piece,” Campana said. “I edited it a little more, and then we ran it.”
The arrangement allows both publications to provide sports coverage to their readers, even during away weeks when there would typically be a gap in reporting.
“Now we don’t have to worry about that,” Gabbianelli said, “because we have reporters from the other school who can cover that game. It allows us to provide coverage for our readers during that gap time without having to dedicate additional reporting resources or send reporters all the way to the other side of the state whenever our teams are on the road.”
Gabbianelli’s reporters also seemed to welcome the idea of their stories being republished in other campus publications.
“[Our sports reporter, Adam Grassani,] was more than excited to have more eyes on his article.” Gabbianelli explained. “Not only is it going to appear in our newspaper and on our website, now it’s also going to be published in South Jersey. So basically, his work is going to be viewed by people from all over the state.”
Gabbianelli and Campana realize that there are limitations to this kind of co-publishing arrangement, especially when it comes to other subjects that don’t involve two teams meeting up to play on one campus. But both are interested in exploring other avenues for collaboration.
“If there’s some kind of new policy that’s also similar to what’s happening at Rowan or affecting another school,” Gabbianelli said, “I can definitely see that as an opportunity for future collaboration.”
Campana is also open to expanding the cooperative arrangement. “If anything comes up in the future that makes sense as a collaboration,” he said, “I’ll be the first one to get them on the phone and say, ‘Let’s do something.’”
Campana hopes other schools will adopt similar co-publishing and collaborative reporting agreements in the future.
“I definitely see opportunities for additional collaboration,” he said, “not just between Rowan and Montclair, but with other schools as well. I hope we’re setting an example for other schools.”
“I think it’s important,” he continued, “to be able to get out of your comfort zone and collaborate or work with people you aren’t familiar with. It’s definitely something that I hope happens more in the future.”
Both are optimistic about opportunities to work with each other and other campus media going forward.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” Campana said, “but it was a fun experience and I look forward to doing it again.”
About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The Center is supported with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund and the Abrams Foundation. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.