Friday, September 16, 2011

Collaboration is Key

By Janice Bates


Collaboration for the greater good was the theme this morning as the final day of the 2011 APME conference continued. Speakers Mark Katches, Stephen Engelberg, and Matt Moore all discussed why they feel collaboration with other news/media groups is important, and also gave examples of what they've done that has been successful.


Katches was first up, the Editorial Director for the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch. He went into detail about what they have been doing recently, especially when it comes to collaborating with other newspapers. Currently, they have the largest investigative reporting team in California, with a total of 12 reporters who look for various stories all over the state. Their goal, as he put it, is to "get great stories!" They work hard to help other news organizations in the state of California, who can no longer do their own investigative reporting due to monetary cutbacks. They do this through their very own distribution model, which in itself has several different approaches.


Their main goals are to create custom drafts for their partners, create different versions of each story, as well as to get the broadest distribution possible for the stories they cover. The first approach they take under this model is what he calls the "Full Service Operational" approach. Here, the Center for Investigative Reporting's goal is to produce all aspects of the story, and then sell it to newspapers in California. The only thing that these papers have to worry about is when to publish the story. Another approach is the "95% Solution" model, in which again they produce all aspects of the story, except they leave a little room for the newspapers to add their own local spin on it. Also, Katches will work with other groups to get the word out about something. An example he gave was how they were able to create a coloring book that was published in five different languages and help teach kids about how to prepare for an earthquake.


He concluded by saying that the newspapers they sell their articles/stories to are not recipients of their work, but rather a part of the effort to bring everyone together to collaborate and get these stories out to a wider audience.


Stephen Engelberg was up next, Managing Editor of ProPublica. Their goal is to "do reporting that brings about change," and "shine a light on something that creates change and affects a lot of people." Their collaboration comes in many forms. They provide exclusives to newspapers, make arrangements with other partners, and have also created and used databases. One of their main databases is called 'Dollars for Docs.' This database pulls together information including the names and records of every doctor that has made their records available to the public. Since they have launched this database, versions of it can now be seen everywhere. 'Dollars for Docs' is just one way they can collaborate with many other different news/media groups.


Matt Moore, AP's Pennsylvania News Editor, concluded the lecture with a brief summary of his take on collaboration. "Collaboration is a wonderful thing," he feels, and he likes how using collaboration can get the story out everywhere. His goal is to put the story out to the people it affects the most, i.e. through local newspapers. Using web feeds was one of the ways he suggested, and he also briefly discussed how they try to focus on state issues like the current gas drilling going on in Pennsylvania.


Overall, it's important to collaborate with other newspapers, non-profits, and any other media source available. This gets the word out, so that more people can know what is going on. All three speakers today relayed this message, and hopefully there will continue to be more involvement in collaborations in the future.


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