New Publishers Are Collaborating and Networking

“The logical solution was for newspapers to form groups and cooperate, establishing networks of reporters whose dispatches would be telegraphed back to a central office and then made available to all member newspapers.”

I came across that quote from Tom Standage in his book “The Victorian Internet“. He was talking about the 1840s when news agencies like the Associated Press and Reuters first sprung to life. Newspapers in that era realized that each individual publisher could only cover a limited amount of ground and it made financial sense to collaborate on many stories.

I’ve been regularly minded of that story recently while seeing updates from today’s new publishers. Here are three examples of these new partnerships.

The first example is The Narwhal, a publisher who have been incredibly innovative and forward-thinking over the last few years. The Narwhal has been working with large publications such as The Globe and Mail on stories like this one. They’ve also been working with small independent news such as The Sprawl on stories like this one. Their latest collaboration involves joining the Great Lakes News Collaborative with a group of US and Canadian publishers based around the Great Lakes. Here’s the announcement.

Great Lakes News Collaborative

The second example is The 19th News Network is a new collective of publishers lead by the The 19th, which I wrote about back in 2020. Examples of stories and partners in this network include: The Hechinger Report, Pennsylvania-Capital Star, Civil Beat, Stateline, Inside Climate News,

Publishers in the 19th Network

The third example is takes this a step further. It’s a collaboration between groups that are already partnerships. The Digital Equity Local Voices Lab is an effort from News is Out (queer media) Word in Black (African-American publishers), and Comcast NBC Universal. The fellowship experience includes training, reporting, and more and will put 16 reporters in 16 news organizations. This is getting a little meta, but essentially we are now seeing collaborations on top of collaborations.

Partnerships are Essential for Publishers in 2024

We’re in such a fragmented media environment that these partnerships make a ton of sense. Almost of all the publishers in this article are WordPress users, and many are our customers at PublishPress. These publishers often share similar principles and technology.

The 19th describes things this way:

“Our stories have since been viewed nearly 5 million times across other news platforms such as The Washington Post, The Guardian, PBS NewsHour, USA Today, Them., Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, Capital B, High Country News, The Arizona Mirror, Mississippi Today, Wisconsin Watch, The Texas Tribune and more. These republishing partners have been an important part of The 19th’s mission, helping us meet readers wherever they are.

That last line is the key: “meet readers wherever they are”. In 2024, single publisher can reach more than a fraction of the potential audience for each story. This is the same problem that led to the foundation of news agencies in the 1840s.

Many publishers use a Creative Commons license to allow their content to be shared. For example, here’s how the 19th allows it’s content to be shared. However, many publishers are going further with active partnerships.

One group has been on this for a long time: The Center for Collaborative Media, based at Montclair State University in New Jersey. If you want to learn more about this topic, they have an excellent newsletter that covers partnership projects.

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