Want to be a collaborative manager? Check out this playbook.

Caroline Porter
Oct 29 · 3 min read

In an era of journalism when the phrase “job cuts” can be all too familiar, the rise of collaborative journalism brings new ways to participate in the journalism industry, and notably, new roles and jobs.

Increasingly, we observe the role of a collaborative manager to be a more available option for those seeking work in the media industry. Perhaps more than ever, the pathways to work in journalism are not set with brittle scaffolding or career ladders. Rather, they often require flexibility and openness to evolve, especially with community needs and advancing technology.

The goal of the Project Manager Playbook for Collaborative Journalism is to identify the role of the collaboration manager, the person who oversees the day-to-day operations of a journalism collaborative.

While the positions can vary in details, the role of the collaboration manager embodies specific characteristics distinct within the field of journalism. It comprises many roles, as the collaboration is its own editorial entity that requires team building, thought leadership, business skills, and of course, news judgment and editorial savvy.

In this way, the role of the collaboration manager stands out for its wide-ranging scope and opportunity to flex different skill sets. Reflecting the diverse shapes that these roles can take, you’ll see variety in title, time commitment, scope, requirements and responsibilities with these roles. We use the phrase “collaboration manager” in the playbook but we include the examples of collaboration directors, editors and other titles.

The playbook includes three profiles of collaborative leaders: Nick Charles, Dana Coester and Vanessa de la Torre. In addition, there are sample job descriptions, key characteristics and more ways to make sense of these roles and how you might envision yourself in a collaborative role.

Whether you are a mid-career journalist looking for a new way to use your industry skills and experience or you are a journalism student considering your potential place in the field, this playbook is for you. If you do not fit into either of those categories, this playbook is also for you. People with backgrounds in civics, arts and nonprofit work have stepped into collaborative leadership roles in recent years.

As you consider collaborative opportunities, please consider reviewing the Center for Cooperative Media’s additional collaboration guides. In partnership with Project Facet, the Center produced six guides related to journalism collaboration.

Caroline Porter is a media strategist and researcher. Caroline worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal in the Chicago and Los Angeles bureaus and served as an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School. As a Fulbright Scholar in Northern Ireland, Caroline researched the role of media in the post-conflict region. You can find her on Twitter at @carolineporter.

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About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a primarily 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 CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

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