Newsrooms have a tendency to be competitive with one another, but Reveal hopes to change that through Reveal Local Labs, a new local news initiative.
Reveal, part of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is collaborating with newsrooms in San Jose, Calif. and New Orleans, La. for two years. The team in San Jose includes the San Jose Mercury News, NBC Bay Area, Telemundo Area de la Bahia and KQED public radio. The partners in New Orleans include the Times-Picayune, FOX 8 WVUE-TV and WWNO New Orleans Public Radio. Two other U.S. cities will be selected and announced at a later date.
“This becomes an opportunity to show our value at a local level,” said Bobby Calvan, Reveal collaborations editor. “Each partner is enthusiastic about broadening their audience reach and engaging more with the community.”
In a press release, Mark Lorando, editor of NOLA.com/the Times-Picayune and vice-president of content for NOLA Media Group, stated, “Creative partnerships are vital to the future of local journalism, and we’re thrilled to have the chance to work with CIR on this innovative project. Communities benefit when newsrooms work together to take investigative reporting to another level.”
Reveal senior editor Ziva Branstetter said that her staff will work as project managers and help build a toolkit for newsrooms to continue collaboration in the marketplace. Partners will decide and map out a joint investigation that will produce meaningful reporting across print, television, radio and the internet.
The toolkit’s objective is to clarify who should publish a story first, the process of weighing investigative ideas and other guiding principles. They also intend to train journalists on radio and data skills.
Each participating newsroom will produce three investigative stories, along with an engagement event and a radio event. First, the partners start with a brainstorming event, where they will discuss story ideas to be followed by an event where they talk to community members. With their first model in San Jose, Calvan said the brainstorming event revealed to each partner gaps in their reporting. For example, some thought they weren’t covering the tech industry well enough, and others though there were gaps in some of their in-house skill sets.
“By acknowledging where gaps exist, Reveal could step in to offer its help in developing the expertise some newsrooms might be lacking,” Branstetter said.
She added the Local Labs will also “harness the power of the group.”
“Each partner has their own strengths and skills to bring to the table,” she said.
After the two year collaboration ends, Branstetter said she envisions an expanded program where they can reach even more newsrooms.