What if all the journalists were on the same team?

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On Friday morning, I met Mary Turck, editor of TC Daily Planet and my fellow education reporter Alleen Brown for our monthly education meeting at Spyhouse. We’ve been getting together since this fall, in a move to strengthen TCDP’s education reporting. We collaborate on ideas, share resources, and brainstorm together. We also use a Facebook group and Google docs to share information between meetings. You may have noticed that we’ve had a larger outpouring of education news in the past several months, along with a new Education Newsletter.

What’s great about this new endeavor is that it allows us to be stronger than just going at it alone. I’ve been writing for TCDP since 2008, and education by far is the most difficult subject to write about. And while I’ve never really had a “beat,” for the first time, this has been experimenting in working largely in one main subject area.

Even though Alleen and I are both freelance journalists, the education collaboration has made us really more like co-workers. Together with Mary Turck, we can have a much broader and deeper reach than we would alone. We’re not competing, because we’re all on the same side.

I wish that this concept could expand even more broadly. I do have friendly relationships with several of the other education reporters from other media outlets, but what if we literally all got together and shared information? We wouldn’t all work on the similar stories as we sometimes do now, but collaborated so that we could get more in depth and cover stories that we don’t have time to do now? It could go beyond just education reporters, too. What if all the journalists from all the papers and online outlets all worked together?

In a perfect world, all the journalists would be on the same side. We would be the truth-bearers, who vigilantly expose injustices, hold political powers to task, critique societal ills, and be the voice of reason. In this envisioned utopia, the journalists would be like Plato’s philosopher kings (well, actually Plato would have the actual rule-makers be the philosopher kings, but in my fantasy, it would be the journalists).

I know, I know. It’s impossible. We live in a capitalistic society, where competition prevents such Pollyanna-ish ideas. However, I do sometimes wonder if a model could be developed that at least approaches a modicum of collaboration, which would benefit each news organization/ business, as well as the readers.