Ohio Newspapers Join in First Reporting Project

By: Joe Strupp

A group of Ohio newspapers that began sharing content nearly two years ago, and have also conducted several joint polls, are about to publish their first joint reporting project.

An investigation into public employee pensions that will utilize staffers from seven Ohio papers is set to run Nov. 29, according to Editor Ben Marrison of The Columbus Dispatch.

“It has been an issue in this state,” Marrison, whose newsroom is the lead on the report, says of the pension issue. “Looking at if they are sustainable given the increasing expense and the increased inability of school districts and towns to pay for them.”

Marrison said his paper is providing the main report, with contributions from The Repository in Canton, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, The Akron Beacon Journal, The Blade of Toledo, the Dayton Daily News and The Vindicator in Youngtown.

“They are each contributing examples from around the state,” Marrison said of the other papers. “We decided we wanted to do the main part here and crunch the numbers in one place. But we are getting examples from around Ohio.”

Marrison said each paper has at least one reporter assigned to the story, and each will run the main piece with other local content related to the issue.

The consortium, known as the Ohio News Organization, began to share content in early 2008 after complaints about the Associated Press coverage of some state issues. At least three polls have also been jointly conducted by the group.

“We are always looking for ways to make better use of what we have and what we can do jointly to better the state,” Marrison said, adding that other such projects are likely in the future.

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