You would not believe how hard it is to find a suitable photo to illustrate this topic. Please collaborate more and take photos when you do so we’re not stuck with stock business photos and dictionaries. (Photo by Diane Hope/CC License)

Journalism changes that matter

From competition to collaboration

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been extremely privileged to sit in on phone calls, meetings and conversations with some of the smartest people in the industry talking about collaboration in journalism. And that thrills and comforts me at a time when there is so much instability and insanity going on regarding what we do, how we do it and how we can keep doing it.

Collaboration matters.

When we talk about shifts in the industry, the historical narrative is about print, to radio, to television to web. We talk about the beginnings of AR and VR and custom content tailored to the user. We talk about consolidation and mergers. We talk about data and algorithms. We talk about social media and publishing platforms. We talk leaked documents, unnamed sources, security and surveillance. We talk about the proliferation of fact-checking verticals. We talk about sponsored content and advertising. We talk about getting our act together on mobile. We talk about local news.

We talk about many important things with plenty others we need to talk more about.

In the long arc of our industry, this is the time when collaboration emerges as more than just a thing newsrooms do as a luxury or a novelty. Now is when we talk about how to integrate collaboration into our newsrooms because of what it really is — a necessity.

This is the time when talking about collaboration matters.

Because at its core, collaboration is about the human connections of our newsrooms.

Right now we are all watching incredible tests of human connections on a different scale and in various arenas. Division, fear, suspicion, competition but also, unity, solidarity, empathy. We watch it play out in our articles, our audio, our videos. It’s on our screens and our minds.

Which has more power? Which should our newsrooms be?

I’m fascinated by the technology and tools side, I’m even trying to build some of them. But I know at the end of the day, it’s not Facet or Slack or anything else that makes collaboration meaningful and effective. It will be us.

It will be the diverse groups of journalists brought together because even when newsrooms can’t hire, they can collaborate with others.

It will be investigations that are published because even when a newsroom doesn’t have the resources and staffing to do the work alone, they can collaborate with others.

It will be the issues put under the bright light of the collective focus of multiple newsrooms.

It will be the corrective force of multiple newsrooms doing the work needed to counter the sheer amount of misinformation, falsehoods, alternative facts and lies that abound.

It will be the solidarity needed to stand firmly in the face antagonistic governments, threatened press freedoms, waning public trust and shrinking budgets.

Collaboration is our best chance for doing the work we need to do.

If you’d like to be a part of the conversation, please join our Slack community.

Are you part of a newsroom or organization that has participated in collaboration? I want to speak to you.

Heather Bryant is currently a JSK Fellow at Stanford working to help newsrooms build effective and meaningful editorial collaborations and partnerships.