A group of multimedia news organisations have launched a new collaborative journalism project reporting on climate change.

WIRED, The Atlantic and the Center for Investigative Reporting will take part in The Climate Desk, which will explore the human, environmental, economic and political impact of the world's changing climate.

Mother Jones, The Atlantic, Slate, US broadcaster PBS' Need to Know programme and environmental news site Grist have signed up as partners for the project, and Reuters business blogger Felix Salmon is also taking part. The initiative has received funding from two foundations, the Surdna Foundation and the Park Foundation, to support the website and joint assignments between organisations.

The project's website will feature reports from participating organisations and collaborative pieces from journalists written for The Climate Desk site alone and aggregate those published on partner sites. The article and blog feeds on the project's site are powered by Publish2, a tool for sharing links and aggregating content online. News organisations taking part will also host articles written by journalists from other partner titles as part of the collaboration.

"[G]iven the transformation of the media business, collaboration seems to be part of the future of journalism. We want to test out a new kind of distributed journalism - bringing together a group of reporting shops to brainstorm, assign, and share coverage. Already, this process has enriched our own understanding of the issue, and that can only be a benefit to our readers," says a statement on The Climate Desk's website.

Climate change, which was also the subject of a social media collaboration between 11 news agencies in December, is a "slow-moving, vast and overwhelming topic" for news organisations, particularly for those facing staff cuts, says The Climate Desk. A more collaborative approach and shared resources for reporting the topic could led to less fractured, compartmentalised coverage of climate change, and overcome the fixation of much reporting with the debate over its existence, says the site.

The project has been in development since December 2009 and according to an interview with Clara Jeffery, co-editor of Mother Jones, in the Columbia Journalism Review, collaboration has come easily.

"When we were contemplating how this topic could be better covered, we thought, what if we could have WIRED's design team or Slate's meme-machine and great pulse on culture? And you start to imagine the different skill sets and how they can partner up to make something that's bigger than the sum of its parts," says Jeffery.

The first series of stories from the collaborative, which has been producing some reports in the month ahead of the official launch, focuses on how businesses are adapting to a changing climate.

"We felt it was an under-reported topic, and the rich journalistic terrain would give us a great vantage point from which to explore future story ideas. Businesses are increasingly forced to address the risks and opportunities of climate change. They will also drive much of the innovation that could help solve it. Going forward, we plan to look at the question of adaptation in a broader sense, and beyond that we'll go wherever a good story leads us," says a statement from the site.

The site will also be looking at different ways of funding the collaboration in the long-term and says it is open to donations from readers.

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