Sustainable Journalism; Collaboration or Competition

The 24/7 news cycle time-crunch and money losses makes it difficult to produce well-crafted or in-depth journalism. Niche reporting and media collaborations offer some possible solutions to these problems and, consequently, are beginning to make competition more obsolete, according to a Wednesday ASNE 2010 panel.

"You are going to see more and more partnerships because of the efficiency and effectiveness on both ends," said Editor of The San Diego Union-Tribune Jeff Light.

The panel mentioned a couple of of reasons these partnerships could flourish.

Media partnerships allow for companies to focus on their strengths, making the end-product better and increasing revenue on both sides.

"We do what we're good at, which is reporting, and they do what they're good at, which is production," Voice of San Diego's Andrew Donohue said about his company's partnership with NBC.

But its not just reporting and production skills. Sometimes it's as simple as knowing the issue.

Investigative nonprofit models, for instance, allow for small groups of journalists to focus on in-depth reporting on very specific problems or tips of interest.
Many times daily paper's reporters are assigned to a beat and can cover an investigative piece "if it comes up." However, these nonprofits can spend time picking out prominent issues without worrying about daily product.

Nonprofit media organization are separate from newspapers and can receive outside donations, grants, or even payment for product in order to conduct their research with the depth it deserves.

By working with other news organizations, the audience expands and there can be increased revenue.

It's typical for 8 percent of the adult population, approximately 160,000 people, to view a local newspaper Web site, said Light. To get to 10 percent is difficult.

Just because there are collaborations doesn't mean there won't be any competition. For instance, daily papers or daily news sites can still compete since there's a likelihood they will cover the same news.

But with a down-turn in many newspapers' profits, playing to your strengths and supplementing with specializing news or other multimedia are not out of the question.

"We don't need to be the number two or even number three to be profitable," said Associate Publisher of San Diego News Network Barbara Bry. "There is room for more than one journalistic enterprise to make money."

by Rachel Leven for the University of Maryland


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