The New Republic and The Marshall Project go on a 'blind date'

The New Republic and The Marshall Project on Friday jointly published "Inexcusable Absences," a reported look at the legal questions surrounding school attendance laws.

The article is the first collaboration between The New Republic and The Marshall Project, a relatively young nonprofit news organization dedicated to criminal justice reporting. For The Marshall Project, the collaboration is a "blind date" of sorts, an experiment working with a magazine that has been remade in recent months, Marshall Project Editor-in-Chief Bill Keller wrote to Poynter.

"TNR is kind of a startup — I guess I should say a restartup — so we don't know exactly what kind of magazine it will turn out to be, and what kind of audience it will have when it's settled," Keller said. "I'm a long time reader of TNR, dating back to Michael Kinsley's heyday, and I'm curious to see whether the new, post-trauma version will live up to the tradition. You could call it a first, blind date."

The New Republic has been rebuilt over the last few months under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Snyder since the departure of Franklin Foer and many of the magazine's senior staffers.

The New Republic, which in October co-published an article with ProPublica on Roe v. Wade, is on the lookout for partners with journalistic integrity who offer stories that fit with the magazine's mission, Snyder said.

Although The New Republic doesn't yet have any additional partnerships to announce, the magazine has been discussing the possibility of co-publishing stories in the future with "various different organizations," Snyder said.

"There's lots of innovation right now around producing high-quality journalism beyond just the handful of organizations that have done that in the past," Snyder said. "And I think that so far, we're seeing a lot of really interesting work being done, and I think that formula of expertise plus audience is one that can work for a lot of different people."

For its part, The Marshall Project has joined forces with a slew of news organizations recently, including The Washington Post, Slate and The Atlantic. The goal of the partnerships, Keller says, is to "raise and sustain a sense of urgency about the way our country dispenses justice."

"The point of partnerships is to reach a vast and demographically diverse audience, wherever we can find them, and educate them about the worrisome state of our criminal justice system," Keller wrote. "Sometimes we do that through exclusive partnerships, sometimes by offering our work for republication by anyone who wants it."

In addition to running "Inexcusable Absences," on its website and in its latest issue, The New Republic also put work into preparing the article for publication, Snyder said. Theodore Ross, the magazine's features director, edited the story with author Dana Goldstein to make it ready for the magazine. Maia Booker, the magazine's photo editor, tracked down the photos that accompanied the story. Associate editor Adam Peck and product designer Silas Burton also pitched in, working on the print and digital presentations of the story.

Both Keller and Snyder are optimistic for the chances of another partnership opportunity. The possibility for a future collaboration will hinge partially on the success of the first, Keller said.

"To some extent that depends on the reach of and response to our first venture with them, and I haven't seen the results yet," he said.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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