February 2, 2018

Before the Philadelphia Eagles got ready to take on the New England Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl this Sunday, journalists in Philly and Minneapolis had a little competition going themselves.

Both cities had a shot at the Super Bowl and played each other in the NFC title game. 

If the Vikings won, Philadelphia Media Network, which includes the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News, would send soft pretzels and Tastykakes to Minnesota. If the Eagles won, the Star Tribune would send Pearson’s Candy Co’s Mint Patties, Bit-O-Honey, Salted Nut Rolls and Nut Goodies.

Minneapolis "also offered Spam, because the Spam Museum is in Minnesota, but we declined," said Stan Wischnowski, executive editor of PMN.

It wasn’t just a friendly competition, though. Philly and Minneapolis (which got to know each other through the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative,) teamed up and created a video showing what each team thought of the other team’s fans. Now, the two newsrooms have brought Boston into the club.

Here’s the language you can find with some of the coverage:

Editor’s Note: Our football teams may be adversaries, but our newsrooms are not. This article is brought to you through a content-sharing partnership among the Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe and Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Thank you for supporting local journalism, no matter where you live.

“Our newsrooms have built very strong relationships in recent years, and this content partnership sprung out super-naturally from that,” Wischnowski said. 

Brian McGrory, the Globe's editor, agreed that it was the natural next step.

"Collaboration rather than competition will serve our readers a lot better on a story like this, and on many other kinds of stories," he said.

It’s working well for each newsroom, too. Philly has seen a “significant” rise in both traffic and engagement. Boston has stories they wouldn't have otherwise. And Minneapolis, the Super Bowl's host city, has seen a rise in referral traffic.

The collaboration works well around planned events, said Suki Dardarian, the Star Tribune's senior managing editor, “where there is a frenzy of coverage over time, where there’s some natural competition — and an opportunity to have some fun.”

But it could also work for elections, Wischnowski said, and even for major breaking news.

“The key is finding those partners with shared values, common editing standards and structures and going beyond the sharing of just articles,” he said. “Our sportswriters had Boston’s reporters on as guests today on our podcast just days before the big game. That’s helping us both reach audiences beyond just print and our websites.”   

Boston and Philly have also teamed up for a series of Facebook Lives, but don’t leave this piece thinking this means the end of competition. Here’s a Star Wars’ themed special section front from Philly.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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