Reporter Jacob Kushner had found a good story. The recent University of Wisconsin graduate was freelancing in post-earthquake Haiti, a place he knew from studies and visits while in college. Kushner had learned that one out of two Haitians being deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency were taken straight to Haitian jails, although they had not been convicted of violating Haitian law. Many had only minor convictions in the United States. Jail conditions were bad enough that at least one deportee died. Kushner suspected that what he saw on the ground contradicted stated U.S. policy, as well as Haitian and international law.
Kushner pitched the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR). It was early 2011, and FCIR was just over a year old. Since its inception, co-founders Trevor Aaronson and Mc Nelly Torres had sought partnerships to expand the center’s reach.
The JA/Collab Central forum on collaboration and revenue held earlier this spring surfaced more than two dozen examples of collaboration in action. This post examines one, an investigative report on deportations from the U.S. to Haiti, as a detailed use case of a collaboration yielding a high return.
Originally commissioned by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) with a grant from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund, the project deepened the budding relationship between FCIR and Florida public radio station WLRN. It also provided early experience in content sharing for members of the Investigative News Network. Eventually, more than 30 news organizations, both commercial and nonprofit, published an online or print version of the piece.
This use case outlines a successful collaboration that laid the groundwork for a deeper partnership that included revenue. It shows how partners worked together in different ways, explores how they may do things differently in the future, and offers examples to consider as you evaluate the structure and yield of potential or current collaborations.