Five news organizations around the country have each agreed to work with at least five hyperlocal news sites or producers in their communities in a Networked Journalism pilot project to gather ideas and lessons for future content collaborations, American University’s J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism announced today.
The one-year project is funded with a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The funds will support a liaison at the newspaper and provide small stipends to local partners.
“We've been moving down this track already, but much too slowly,” said David Boardman, executive editor of the Seattle Times, one of the project’s newspapers. “This will kick-start it, give us a better organizing framework, and give us a way to share successes and challenges with others. It's perfect timing.”
The pilot news organizations are:
- The Seattle Times
- The Miami Herald
- The Charlotte Observer
- Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times
- TucsonCitizen.com, a newspaper that has become a Web-only citizen journalism outlet.
"A growing number of Web-based journalists now help to fill the need for quality news coverage in many communities,” said Charlotte Observer editor Rick Thames. “We'd like to see if partnerships with these journalists could lead to richer, more relevant content for all of our audiences."
The news organizations are beginning to reach out to prospective partner news sites in their communities. “We hope this project will help traditional news organizations and new media makers begin to figure out how to amplify good content coming from their communities – sharing it, even monetizing it for all participants,” said Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, which is overseeing the project. J-Lab is a center at American University’s School of Communication.
J-Lab will assemble the lessons learned into an overall report on how such Networked Journalism collaborations might work.
Among the lessons to be sought are:
- What are the attributes to look for in recruiting partners?
- What kinds of partners do, or don’t, want to work with a mainstream news organization?
- What kind of partner content is valuable enough for mainstream news outlets to give it an added voice or use it as a basis for enterprise reporting?
- What are the opportunities to share content?
- What other community sites asked to join the network?
- How do you maintain a sense of “ownership” among the community partner while also gelling the collaboration as a “network?”
- How do you measure success?
"These days, when anyone can publish local information, we hope that a guided partnership between local newspapers and local bloggers or citizen journalists can increase the amount of local information available in a community and raise its quality. We see this as a win/win for the community," said Gary Kebbel, Knight's journalism program director.