How I plan to promote collaborative journalism in the future

By JACQUI NEBER | April 20, 2017

It’s Pulitzer season! On April 11, the most coveted awards in journalism were given to the most outstanding publications and writers in the industry. The Panama Papers, one of the biggest collaborative investigative reporting events since the Pentagon Papers, won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

We live in an era of press sabotage, attempted destabilization and absurd exclusion. I don’t have to mention Trump’s name for you to know who I’m referring to. Given our circumstances, journalists and publications have a responsibility to remain committed and come together to produce the best work possible. That’s what the Panama Papers represent: commitment to our cause.

Poynter wrote about this, of course. Author Melody Kramer writes, “Collaboration has inspired journalism conferences, summits, Pew studies, J-Lab reports, essays and stories on newsrooms working together. [It’s] been cited, among other things, as one of the driving forces that could help the news ecosystem.”

She then provides 56 examples of journalism partnerships, including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the committee that spearheaded the Panama Papers partnerships.

She cites local partnerships and collaborations and collaborations between journalists and audiences. The 56 partnerships represent continued work beyond the Panama Papers that the industry desperately needs to survive our circumstances. If journalists don’t stick together, the industry could lose its ability to bring important news to the public.

I’m moving into my last weeks as a News-Letter Managing Editor. Next year, I’ll serve as the Opinions Editor before finally leaving the paper behind after four amazing, difficult, transformative years. Hopefully, for a career in this very field.

This transition into being an Opinions Editor freaks me out. Not because I’ll be out of the managerial positions of the newspaper but because I’ll be running a section alone, something I’ve never done. I had three cohorts as a News & Features Editor and one as a Managing Editor. Running a section alone will be a completely new challenge.

I say I’m a natural leader, and I am, but the best journalism is often a group effort. Pitfalls are easy to get stuck in, and gathering different perspectives, opinions and angles on a story is the best way to avoid making mistakes. Collaborative work is essential. It even wins Pulitzers.

These are my last weeks as a Managing Editor, and these are my last weeks writing as an In Review columnist. I’ll miss this column. I’ve enjoyed writing about journalism. Responding industry news makes me feel like part of the industry. Journalism principles, the morals and values that guide our work, are so often applicable to other areas of life that it’s easy to bridge a connection between journalism and events that surround us.

While running a section alone will be a new and exciting challenge, being Opinions Editor is also an opportunity to make the position more collaborative. It’s an opportunity to manage a new team and bring new perspectives to the section. It’s also an opportunity to continue my work on the Editorial Board, which is my favorite part of being Managing Editor.

There is so much that can be done with the Opinions section, and since I have little experience writing OP/ED pieces, I can’t wait to flex new muscles.

Okay. This column isn’t all about me. Yes, I have a new section, but that section and our newspaper here at Hopkins are just microcosms of the larger world of journalism. We all have an opportunity to be more collaborative moving forward. Several organizations, papers and individuals have already taken important first steps (not to say that working together for the greater journalistic good is a new idea).

Journalists are often perfectionists in their craft. They are amazing soloists. They push themselves. They can stand alone. However, especially in our current era, we need to work together too. Our industry depends on our efforts.

For more information on current initiatives and collaborations to bring the public the best journalism, visit Poynter and check out Melody Kramer’s list.

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