Six ‘key elements’ that explain why some journalism partnerships work and others do not

Pew Journalism last week released a report on journalism collaborations titled “Journalism Partnerships: A New Era of Interest” in which it looked at five case studies and the “key elements” that challenge or aide such partnerships.

The report, available online or in printable format, looks at collaborations between the Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress; I-News Network/Rocky Mountain PBS and KUSA-TV; The Texas Front-Page Exchange; The Lens and WWNO Public Radio; and The Toronto Star and El Nuevo Heraldo. I-News Network/Rocky Mountain PBS and The Lens are member organizations of the Investigative News Network.

We have covered the topic of newsroom collaboration on this journal, looking closely at the experimental project of InvestigateWest and Seattle-based NPR/PBS affiliate KUOW. But unlike that collaboration involving two nonprofits, the case studies named in the Pew Research report involves for-profit and nonprofit models.

Houston Chronicle editor Nancy Barnes is quoted in the summary of the report, offering some optimism for content collaborations, especially between for-profit and nonprofits:

“As non-profits become more established and credible, they will become an increasing asset to traditional news organizations. Readers don’t care where the content comes from so long as the quality is consistent, fair and accurate. Our job as editors is to make sure that’s the case.”

Here is a synopsis of six takeaways from the report:

  1. Economics were and still are the driver for these partnerships.
  2. Paradoxically, often little if any money changes hands.
  3. Things can easily go wrong.
  4. Imaginative ad hoc partnering may be the next wave.
  5. Oddly, though digital disruption and competition is the change agent, digital partnering may be secondary.
  6. Quality counts; quality plus engagement is even better.

Check out the full report here.