Collaborative journalism is increasingly viewed as a way to strengthen the struggling media industry and help newsrooms regain audiences’ trust.
Harder to spot - but not less important - are examples of collaboration and partnerships between the big players that come with a promise of improving tools available to journalists.
One such example is the Wire Club, a collaborative forum that provides news agencies with an opportunity to partner on innovation, share development costs, and improve their content management systems (CMS).
Ultimately, their aim is to develop new open-source software that will be available to journalists worldwide.
The collaboration was launched by Sourcefabric, one of Europe’s largest developers of open-source software for newsrooms, and it has Norwegian news agency NTB, Belgian news agency Belga, and the Australian Associated Press (AAP) amongst its founding members.
"We launched the Superdesk Wire Club to give news agency users a seat at the development table," said Karel Petrák, a Sourcefabric project manager and Wire Club organiser.
"When news organisations work together to improve technological efficiency and share development costs, the entire industry benefits."
The main incentive here is efficiency. Petrák said that while every news organisation is unique, the workflows and outputs are surprisingly similar. Therefore, it makes little sense for every news outlet to build and maintain its own CMS.
The collaboration already brought about the Superdesk Planning Component, a future coverage planning tool for the Superdesk sofware, before the Wire Club was even founded. This episode became the inspiration that led to a more formal collaborative effort.
Petrák is now looking at more areas where members might want to focus their attention.
One of them is robo-journalism which uses algorithms to write stories, personalise content delivery and sift through reams of data in search of scoops.
"There is also a growing desire for mobile apps to facilitate on-the-go publishing," he said.
The collaboration is facilitated by the fact that, unlike traditional publishers, most big, national news agencies do not directly compete with each other because they generally target different geographical audiences.
"This puts news agencies in a unique position, in that they can be the drivers of media technology innovation.
"It also means that because news agencies have an incentive to work together, the tools that they co-develop can benefit the rest of the industry, where competition can impede partnerships," Petràk concluded.
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