The AP built a tool to help newsrooms in New York share news with each other

February 18, 2020

In the last month, more than two dozen newsrooms in New York have shared work with each other through a new tool called AP StoryShare. That tool, supported by Google News Initiative, came from a conversation the AP had with customers in New York who worried about a decline in state news, said Noreen Gillespie, deputy managing editor for US News with the AP, via email.

“During that conversation, they said that they had been emailing stories back and forth with each other to fill their pages. And we thought, ‘What if AP could help do this?’” Gillespie said. “The problem with informal networks is that they aren’t necessarily sustainable. So the idea of AP StoryShare is that we could help moderate an ecosystem, and create a technical platform where it could live and thrive.”

Participants, who are AP customers in New York, share the work they want when they want, she said. So far, more than 200 stories have been shared. The AP shared results in a press release on Tuesday.

“There’s been a good mix of hard news and features coming into the site,” Gillespie said. “And we’ve heard from some of the participants that they haven’t felt this informed about the region in more than 30 years.”

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Those newsrooms are also working together on spot news, she said, and one participant has proposed a collaborative project.

“It gives every newsroom in New York more high-quality options on what to present to their audience, beyond what their own staffs produce,” the Adirondack Daily Enterprise told readers in a Jan. 25 editorial. “It lets us offer you in-depth reporting on a topic that we can’t spare a reporter for, but some newsroom somewhere can.”

As local daily and weekly newspapers shrink, local newsrooms around the country that aren’t formally connected are finding more and more ways to work together. In North Carolina, 22 newspapers are working together to share statewide news as part of the North Carolina News Collaborative. Newsrooms in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Illinois are working together to cover statehouses. In Florida, along major watersheds and in the Midwest, newsrooms have teamed up to cover the environment.

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The AP also has other projects aimed at strengthening local news, including a project that helps local newsrooms get localized data and a partnership with Report For America to increase statehouse coverage.

In New York, AP StoryShare will run through the fall. It could expand to different places after that, Gillespie said.

“Our goal right now is to understand the characteristics of strong, sustainable collaborative networks, and how AP can best facilitate their survival. We’re encouraged that these outlets are prioritizing collaboration over competition. And the early results are showing us that we’re onto something.”

Kristen Hare covers the transformation of local news for Poynter.org and writes a weekly newsletter on the transformation of local news. Want to be part of the conversation? You can subscribe here. Kristen can be reached at khare@poynter.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare.