Comparing models of collaborative journalism

Report: Comparing models of collaborative journalism

For the past three years, the Center for Cooperative Media has studied the rise of collaborative journalism.

Working cooperatively is nothing new, to be sure, but how frequently and impactfully news organizations have been collaborating over the last few years is certainly something new. Dramatically shifting business models, technological advances and seismic shifts in audience have lead to groundbreaking and award-winning collaborations around the world, including the Panama Papers and Electionland.

The Center released its first full research paper on this topic in 2017, identifying six distinct models of collaborative journalism. The report, authored by Center research director Sarah Stonbely, explains the underpinnings of each model and also explores the history of collaborative journalism.

“As we document, collaborative journalism is now being practiced on a scale that constitutes a revolution in journalism,” Stonbely writes. “The many trials and errors of the last decade have generated cooperative efforts that have stood the test of time and are showing the way for others.

“While lessons are still being learned, collaborative journalism has evolved from experiment to common practice.”

In her research, Stonbely focused on cooperative arrangements, formal and informal, between two or more news and information organizations which aim to supplement each group’s resources and maximize the impact of the content produced.

She separates various kinds of collaboration by comparing levels of integration versus time, which, when viewed on a matrix, creates six models of collaborative journalism:

Click here or click the image above to view the tip sheets.

Millions of dollars are being poured into such collaborative reporting projects and cooperative arrangements around the world. According to the Center’s report, for example, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has put nearly $32 million dollars into funding 29 local and regional partnerships as of earlier this year — and that number is still growing.

The full paper, titled “Comparing Models of Collaborative Journalism,” and its associated tip sheets — one for each model Stonbely identifies, plus the master matrix — are available for download on

The release of the white paper followed the Center’s first Collaborative Journalism Summit, held in May 2017, and its open call for collaborative reporting projects that awarded six grants of $7,000 each. The Center has continued collecting case studies, research and best practices related to collaborative journalism at The following year, the Center launched a database of collaborative projects. Make sure we include your collaboration — use the form below to tell us about it.

If you’d like more info, feel free to contact the Center for Cooperative Media at [email protected].

Watch the full presentation and panel discussion:

Click here to download the full report (PDF).