Developing journalism collaborations for local impact
The role of collaborative scaffolding and solutions journalism in changing local media ecosystems
Communities and funders are searching for ways to rebuild and strengthen local news to be more diverse, equitable, inclusive, impactful and sustainable. What can we learn from local journalism collaboratives that are using solutions journalism to catalyze change in their communities and local media ecosystems?
In this report, we summarize findings from a yearlong research project in 2020-2021 in which we studied a cohort of six solutions journalism collaboratives based in different parts of the United States. Our research included baseline case studies; interviews with journalists, editors and non-news partners, as well as audience members; meeting observations; and surveys among collaborative members and audience members. Our interest was in understanding what outcomes these collaboratives were generating for themselves, their ecosystems and their communities.
We found that with sufficient time, resources, and leadership, collaborative groups are using solutions journalism to work together in new ways and produce truly remarkable local journalism. Their collaboration is deepening their relationships, changing their mindsets, shifting their ecosystems, and paving the way towards change in their communities.
The members of the mature collaboratives we studied had a strong sense of shared values, operated with a high degree of trust, and had a commitment to the collaborative as an entity. The values, trust, and commitment operated like a scaffold to keep the groups moving forward on their projects, even when they encountered challenges. We call the critical ingredient to their impact collaborative scaffolding.
This report takes a deep dive into collaborative scaffolding, how it developed in the groups we studied, and the impact it can create. We believe any collaboration can develop strong scaffolding as a foundation for impactful journalism that catalyzes community and ecosystem change. This research shows how.
The research included baseline case studies; interviews with journalists, editors and non-news partners, as well as audience members; meeting observations; and surveys among collaborative members and audience members.
WATCH: Collaborative scaffolding and solutions journalism at #CJS2022
Authors Caroline Porter and Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro discuss the interplay between collaborative scaffolding and solutions journalism and the findings of their report, which traces the outcomes of solutions journalism collaboratives according to their developmental phases.
👋 Want to learn more about collaborative journalism?
You can subscribe to our collaborative journalism newsletter for more updates and information. And of course, we invite you to visit collaborativejournalism.org to learn more about the topic of collaborative journalism — including our growing database of collaborative journalism projects, which is currently being updated.
About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.