Do more with less: minimizing competitive tensions in collaborative local journalism

People collaborating at a desk

Image: Canva/Retha Ferguson from Pexels

Paper published in 'Digital Journalism'

This paper focuses on collaborative journalism efforts in the UK, Italy and Finland. It examines how the participants in the projects minimise competitive friction when sharing resources and coordinating activities, and proposes three ideal collaborative models.

Abstract: Collaborative journalism has drawn mounting interest from both practitioners and researchers over the last decade. Partnerships among news outlets, and between journalists and civil-society groups, have been heralded as ways to leverage digital tools and technologies to produce in-depth, impactful reporting in the face of economic and professional challenges besetting the news industry.

While collaboration is widely seen as a way to do more with less, few studies have focused on the mechanisms that allow successful collaborations to overcome competitive friction, particularly at the local level, where resources are most constrained and economic pressures most intense. We used qualitative case-study research, including in-depth interviews (N = 29) with leaders and participants involved with collaborations in three European countries, to examine the ways they minimize competitive friction through their approaches to developing reporting projects, coordinating activities, and distributing benefits in pursuit of producing high-quality local news. We use these findings to propose three ideal types of collaborative practices — here termed the co-op, contractor, and NGO models — which are specific to local news provision and potentially applicable to similar efforts around the world.