In 2020, collaboration in journalism is about way more than sorting through data together or expanding a story’s reach. Now, collaborative journalism means sharing power among journalists, readers and viewers, community partners, scientists, and more — delivering information that centers and addresses people’s voices and needs, together. The pandemic has elevated the need for robust collaborative and local journalism to tackle a story of this size and specificity. But it’s also reinforced the importance of seeding collaborations with equity and respect, recognizing the unequal effects of COVID-19 on our communities.
Across the journalism industry, more and more newsrooms are turning to events as part of their engagement and revenue strategy. And advertisers and residents are responding. In Texas last year, The Texas Tribune made roughly $1.5 million from its journalism events, most of which were offered free to the public. In Philadelphia, Billy Penn made 84 percent of its revenue on events. In this guide, we will draw on lessons and case studies from news events run by newsrooms of all sizes and share some key lessons for publishers who are just getting started.
This guide was created based on a workshop I gave to graduate students at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. It is the culmination of a lot of research and my own experience with email outreach, online advocacy, and fundraising, as well as my work on the Local Fix, a weekly newsletter on tips and tools for local journalists.
rom 2014 to 2016, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation supported two crowdfunding campaigns with local newsrooms and studied a number of others. This guide looks at each of these campaigns and pulls in lessons from other newsrooms that have been successful. The guide also looks at how to convert the community that supports your crowdfunding campaign into ongoing contributors, allies, and friends of the organization. See Local News Lab series of Guides.
The goal of this work was not to save journalism, but to build a more diverse and vibrant public square that could strengthen New Jersey communities and foster more informed and engaged citizens. Inspired by the power and creativity of networks, we wanted to catalyze new kinds of journalism that put communities and collaboration at the center of their work.
This guide is designed to give newsrooms a simple, step-by-step process to host focus groups with local residents. It is based on the work of Phil Napoli, Jessica Crowell, and Kathleen McCollough at the Rutgers University News Measures Research Project at the Media + The Public Interest Initiative.