In the media business, the “C” word used to be “competition.”
In the golden age of newspapers, one of the big thrills for editors and reporters was coming to work in the morning and seeing what scoops you had in that day’s paper over the other newspaper in town. If you worked at the little paper like I did and had scooped the bigger one in your circulation area, the victory was that much the sweeter.
But that was then. In today’s media business, the “c” word is “collaboration.”
- The editor of a daily newspaper offers to partner with hyperlocal journalists working in the area, going so far as to publish the name and number of the paper’s community editor to make it easier for them to get in touch.
- The editors of several local or regional magazines and online publishers agree to attend an event to offer tips on freelance writing opportunities at their respective publications, never mind that by appearing together they risk losing the services of some promising writers who might be interested in writing for one of said publications more than another.
- Independent journalists living in the same area come together to work side-by-side three times a week, all the better to share ideas and otherwise help each other out, without worrying about someone stealing someone else’s story ideas.
- A public radio station teams up with other regional public radio stations in order to do a better job of reporting on issues that cross state lines.
All of those things are happening right now – and they’re all happening here in Portland.
Portland may be more progressive than some areas when it comes to journalist collaboration. But it’s far from alone. Just last week, the Online News Association announced that it was teaming up with the Poynter Institute, the well-regarded journalism training center, to provide digital journalism instruction to the organization’s 1,800 members. This month, more than two dozen writers who know each other through a popular freelance writing message board published an essay book, Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart, which is for sale online on Amazon.
All of which begs the question: As an independent writer, how are you embracing collaboration? Some ways I could think of:
- Partnering with another writer who covers the topics you do to do a joint bylined story, project or ebook on a subject you both care about.
- Applying for a grant for a similar type of project.
- Going after some a steady, contributing writer gig, where you can contribute as a member of an editorial team.
Are there other ways that you’re collaborating? If so, please share.