Business & content partnerships


Making partnerships work: How a team of 50+ international reporters investigated and exposed the World Bank

Michael Hudson, a senior editor with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was project editor for ICIJ’s World Bank investigation.

At a military camp in a violence-stained region of Central America, a Honduran Army officer informed Sasha Chavkin that he knew the reporter’s itinerary – where Chavkin was going and the people he planned to interview. When Chavkin asked how he had acquired this information, the colonel said simply: “Yo soy un militar.” (“I am a military man.”)

Justin Kipkorir displays some household items destroyed along with his home. Kipkorir said Kenyan forest rangers raided and destroyed the house weeks earlier. (Photo by Tony Karumba /  GroundTruth)

Justin Kipkorir displays some household items destroyed along with his home. Kipkorir said Kenyan forest rangers raided and destroyed the house weeks earlier.
(Photo by Tony Karumba / GroundTruth)

In Kenya’s western highlands, rifle-toting officers from the Kenya Forest Service confronted Anthony Langat and Jacob Kushner as the Nairobi-based reporters tried to interview indigenous peoples who claimed forest rangers had burned them out of their homes. Read more


Knight Foundation finds a foothold in for-profit tech startups

You read here with some regularity about Knight Foundation grants and Knight-funded research projects. But in recent years without notice, the leader in journalism philanthropy also has established a modest beachhead in the for-profit world.

The Knight Enterprise Fund, organizationally part of the unit that manages the foundation’s $2.5 billion endowment, has a $10 million kitty and has made 40 venture investments over the last three years.

Ben Wirz (photo courtesy of Knight Foundation)

Ben Wirz (photo courtesy of Knight Foundation)

It has a dual purpose, director of venture investments Ben Wirz told me in a phone interview.  Make money, yes, but also keep the foundation up to speed on promising digital tools and trends, the better to inform its grant-making.

Wirz, who spoke at Poynter for our Media Innovations Tour earlier this spring, was a journalist early in his career, reporting for Japan’s Asahi ShimbunRead more


Despite ABC News/CPI blowup, here’s how news partnerships can work

Journalism organizations might get discouraged about joining partnerships after the public meltdown of the partnership between ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity this week.

CPI’s reporter Chris Hamby won a Pulitzer Prize for stories that exposed how coal miners who were dying from black-lung disease were being unfairly denied health benefits. ABC wanted to get some of the credit for the investigation. What followed was a nasty exchange that played out here on Poynter Online all week.

But let’s not forget the upside to great investigative journalists from different organizations working together. ABC and CPI did affect lives, expose wrongdoing and reach a national audience that neither could have done alone.

Some of the most important journalism in recent years has been the product of partnerships. Read more

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5 good reasons that are driving the boom in local broadcast mergers & acquisitions

When Tribune bought a group of 19 local television stations for $2.7 billion a week ago, it was just the latest and biggest case of a consolidation trend that has been building momentum for several years now.

In June, Gannett bought Belo’s 20 stations for $1.5 billion. Earlier this year, Media General and New Young Broadcasting merged, and Sinclair Broadcast Group, a specialist in smaller markets, acquired three groups in successive months.

Some media business phenomena are mysterious, but this one is straightforward. Here are some questions being asked as bigger players and bigger deals continue to pop up, along with my answers:

What’s driving the mergers and acquisitions?

I see at least five good explanations.

1. The local television business is strong now and for the next several years.  Read more


Content going ‘everywhere’: WSJ extends premium subscriptions to Pulse newsreader

Pulse | PR Web | Bloomberg
One day after The New York Times announced an “NYT Everywhere” strategy that will extend subscriber content to Flipboard, The Wall Street Journal stepped up its own “Journal Everywhere” plan by selling premium content within the Pulse news aggregation app.

While the Times is offering full access to existing subscribers through Flipboard, the Journal will sell alternative subscriptions in Pulse to three narrower channels: WSJ Political Report or WSJ Technology Digest for $3.99 a month each, or a daily editors-choice section called WSJ Water Cooler for 99 cents a month. Read more


What the Forbes model of contributed content means for journalism

Two years ago, was a news website like most others.

Today, it is less website, more operating system — an underlying layer of technology that hundreds of contributors use to publish independently.

Lewis DVorkin, who kickstarted the model at True/Slant and since 2010 has honed it for as chief product officer, calls it “incentive-based, entrepreneurial journalism.”

Much of the content on comes from its hundreds of contributors, who write as independent contractors.

“Entrepreneurial”? Each contributor flies solo with his own blog. He is responsible for conceiving and creating the content, ensuring its accuracy and building an engaged, loyal readership. Forbes provides the technology and compensates some of the contributors, but otherwise, like all entrepreneurs, contributors are left to sink or swim on their own. Read more


IRS delays make it hard for nonprofit news sites to build their businesses

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the nonprofit news field knows the big players:, Texas Tribune, MinnPost, ProPublica, et. al.

You probably haven’t heard of the Arlington Mercury or the San Diego Newsroom.

Another difference between the first group and the second: The IRS has ruled that the nationally-known news orgs are tax-exempt organizations. The two others, along with several you may know, are still waiting to see if they made the cut.

Chicago News Cooperative had something in common with both groups; it was nationally known but never an IRS-approved nonprofit.

The hangup with the IRS wasn’t the only problem that led CNC to stop publishing Sunday. But as other, lesser-known news startups have learned, it’s even harder to build a self-sustaining news operation when the IRS hasn’t validated your 501(c)(3) status. Read more


Will Bay Citizen-CIR merger affect partnership with New York Times?

Recent stories about the pending merger between The Bay Citizen and the Center for Investigative Reporting in California have raised the question of whether the merged group would continue to work with The New York Times. The Bay Citizen produces stories for the Times edition in the Bay Area, similar to arrangements between the Times and the Chicago News Cooperative and The Texas Tribune.

Describing Phil Bronstein’s presentation to The Bay Citizen’s board in January, Peter H. Lewis wrote: Read more


How to adapt online news in the age of sharing

Internet users are sending a message most media companies aren’t ready to hear: They want to share, reuse and remix your content.

To leaders of news organizations and other media, this probably means one thing: copyright violation. But with a new style of publishing, they could turn it into an opportunity.

The most popular social networks thrive by letting users repost other people’s content. What if news publishers did the same?

The world’s 1.2 billion Internet users spend one in every five minutes on a social network, the fastest-growing of which are those designed for copying and curating.

Felix Salmon reports that the surging Tumblr microblogging network has nine people curating (by “reblogging” others’ posts) for every one person creating original posts. Then there’s the explosive growth of Pinterest (visits up 55 percent in one month), a social network exclusively for curating images and ideas from around the Web. Read more


‘Medical school model’ brings newspaper, radio station and university together

A newspaper, public radio station and university in Macon, Ga., are moving in together and sharing content, in a unique partnership aimed at strengthening local news reporting, thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation being announced today.

The news staffs of The (Macon) Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting will move in with the journalism faculty and students at a new Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University.

Each group retains its own editorial products and independence, but they will be working in one newsroom, teaching each other and sharing content.

They’re calling it “the medical school model,” with benefits for all — students train in an environment structured for both learning and doing; professionals improve and benefit from students’ work; and the community gets a better service. Read more

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