What happens when border dynamics intersect with climate change, and how do you bring into the conversation the impact of a global phenomenon on individual communities?
To find out, Quartz is partnering with The Monitor, a daily local newspaper in McAllen, Texas, to collaborate on a project about the effects of climate change in the lower Rio Grande Valley in the US.
The project, funded through a grant from the Center for Cooperative Media, will see the two outlets work together to report on how the issue is affecting McAllen and Reynosa, its sister city across the Mexican border, as well as the wider region.
The idea came from conversations in the Quartz newsroom about how international and national media outlets can reach local communities better, following the US presidential election, explained Elijah Wolfson, science editor at Quartz.
"We were looking at developing partnerships with local media publications in parts of the country where we don't necessarily have people on the ground, and where we could potentially find overlap in our mandate to cover the new global economy with local reporting," he told Journalism.co.uk.
"As the science editor, what struck me as the perfect project was to cover issues of how climate change, a global phenomenon that has almost hyperlocal impact, is currently affecting communities in the US that maybe have been underreported or not reported on at all."
The two partners are still discussing the formats of the project, the editorial budget and the specific stories they will pursue, however the aim is for the reporting to also include elements such as video and data visualisations.
The collaboration will enable Quartz to benefit from the expertise The Monitor has in covering the area, while The Monitor will have access to Quartz's audience and diverse range of skills, such as a data reporting team, product and design staff, and a bot studio.
Both organisations have been part of collaborations before – Quartz worked with Marketplace on a podcast called Actuality, and The Monitor has previously partnered with ProPublica, Texas Tribune and other local outlets.
Reach, skills and expertise are among the most frequent reasons and benefits to editorial collaborations between local and national or international outlets. For a smaller newsroom with fewer resources, acquiring a specific skill or technology would take longer, while the 'parachuting' approach larger news organisations sometimes employ to cover an issue is often frowned upon.
Daniel Flores, staff writer at The Monitor, told Journalism.co.uk in an email that the Rio Grande Valley is increasingly part of national conversations, and the partnership with Quartz will "elevate border stories to a larger audience" and "allow local stories to take new forms".
"[The Monitor] has the trust of the local community, which I think is really important, and I feel like one of the big opportunities for this type of collaborations is the trust issue," Wolfson added.
"What came out of the post-election discussion is that huge swaths of the US don't trust national and international media, because they think it's biased or not representative. In this instance, [The Monitor's] brand is maybe even more valuable locally than ours would be, because we are part of that coastal media infrastructure.
"I feel strongly about these type of collaborations so my hope is that this leads to similar projects in the future."
- Collaboration in the newsroom is one of the topics we'll be discussing at our upcoming newsrewired conference on 22 November. Find out more here.
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