‘Collaborate or Die’: What we learned at the 2019 Collaborative Journalism Summit

It’s a brave new world out there, where a broadcast media station partners with public media and the largest newspaper in the area on a topic of public interest.

But that’s been the case for years in Philadelphia, where first The Re-Entry Project and later Resolve Philadelphia forged partnerships among the city’s famously combative media ecosystem to cover first recidivism and then economic insecurity here in America’s poorest big city. So what better place for Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media to host its third-annual (and first-ever off-campus!) Collaborative Journalism Summit?

The unofficial start of the Summit was a daylong Solutions Journalism Network session at the Philadelphia headquarters of NBC10, in the brand new Comcast Technology Center at 18th and Arch streets. There, Resolve Philly’s founders and a host of other collaborative journalism vets broke into sessions and shared lessons around their various projects.

Then, it was off to the beginning of the Summit itself, which started with a reception at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and wound up with a panel on the Philly-style collaboration I led with — including representatives from Resolve Philadelphia, NBC10, WHYY, WURD, the Inquirer, PhillyCAM and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Sessions continued on Friday at WHYY, with visitors from across the pond at the BBC talking about partnerships in the UK; lightning talks and plenary talks; and Darryl Holiday from Chicago’s City Bureau talking about activating new forms of journalism in the Windy City. (You can browse the full conference schedule here.)

LION Publishers was well-represented — yours truly worked the rooms, along with Interim Executive Director Steve Beatty, and chatted briefly with board members Glenn Burkins (Q City Metro) and Tracie Powell (Democracy Fund). Other LIONs in attendance included Zawadi Morris of the BK Reader; Christina Johnson, The Two River Times; Jiquanda Johnson, Flint Beat; Bruce Putterman, CT Mirror; Tom Stites, Banyan Project; and new member Michael Morisy, from Muck Rock.

This sticker, gathered from a table at the conference entry at the top of this post, though, really says everything about what media is like in 2019, and will continue for the foreseeable future: We all need to collaborate. Or there won’t be much of a future to work toward. — Chris Krewson

The best conference badge I’ve ever had — and a sticker with a message worth repeating.