The US-based non-profit newsroom ProPublica is known for its in-depth coverage of abuses of power. Its hard-hitting investigative journalism has often relied on large-scale collaborations. Over the past few years, it has worked with hundreds of journalists and news organisations across the United States to report on hate crimes and election-day voting problems.
It is not easy to manage collaborative news projects, especially if these projects rely on data from different sources. We believe ProPublica journalists must have learned many lessons as they successfully published their news collaborations. Most organisations would guard the secrets of their craft jealously. But in a supreme act of selflessness that speaks volumes about its commitment to the spirit of collaboration, ProPublica decided to share its wisdom with the journalism community.
The guidebook offers tips for newsrooms to work on large data sets in partnership with other news organisations. It walks news organisations through planning, assembling, launching, and maintaining collaborative data-driven projects. It also provides information on issues that should be considered before starting a crowd-sourced data collaboration. The guide is supported by the Google News Initiative.
Since the publication of the guidebook, ProPublica has also made available an open-source software called Collaborate that allows many journalists to build a shared database for a news project together.
Rachel Glickhouse, the ProPublica journalist who wrote the guide, said she hopes the guidebook will “inspire journalists to try out collaborations, even if it’s just one or two partners”.