Learning to share in the media sandbox

Content sharing among newspapers scattered across a state or large geographic area is becoming relatively common and video pooling arrangements between local TV stations in the same city are also becoming more common.

These are works in progress driven by economics, but even if the economy gives media companies a short breather, I suspect these are here to stay. The Tennessee sharing agreement between the News Sentinel, Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Tennessean, the (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal, the (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle and the Commercial Appeal appears to be working well as a few rough edges get honed in the day-to-day way it works.

The forthcoming spring issue of the magazine APME News will take a deeper look at these regional arrangements between newspapers.

John Temple, the last editor of the Rocky Mountain News, says he doesn’t see why these sharing agreements couldn’t extend to TV station-newspapers sharing video:

Newspapers aren’t print products anymore. The divide between
newspapers, TV stations, radio and magazines is breaking down. While
this sharing is being done as an economic measure, it makes sense
editorially to free up staff to focus on exclusive stories rather than
having people cover the same stories at each station.

This would be a leap for many newspaper editors — and probably TV news directors as well. I think it is likely you could see this start as a strategic alliance between a newspaper and single TV station.

This would merely be an expansion of alliances already in place for cross promotion or joint news projects. Instead of the TV station providing video and the newspaper providing text, there could be a full multimedia exchange. Could that happen in 2009? Is it already happening?



  1. In many cities, newspapers have “partnerships” with local TV news, but the arrangements seem to be one to one. In Knoxville, does the News Sentinel share with all the TVs or just one. Formal or informal arrangement?
    Also, it makes perfect economic sense to share local news, but that means fewer reporters on each day’s “big story.”
    And, I have to ask if local TVs feel comfortable with newspaper shooting video or not. Moving images are so very important to TV.

  2. We have a formal relationship with WVLT for govolsxtra and prepxtra. We have a longstanding agreeemnet with WBIR for some cross promotion and have done joint news projects with them for several years, but not in recent months.
    In both these cases, the arrangements were larger than just the newsroom and included some marketing aspects.
    You’re right, TV might not be comfortable with a newspaper doing its video. But I could see a day when you might find a station willing to let a newspaper newsroom be its reporters while retaining its anchor personalities. Would that work?

  3. It’s amazing the kinds of sharing today’s economics already drive, and what we might see if the secular changes in the media business pile on more pressure.
    Almost a shame it takes a business crisis to get us to work together — because, I believe, the results more often are superior journalism and public service, with less redundancy and outright waste in the name of competition.
    What about competition driving journalists to dig deeper? Well … I find journalists plenty competitive as individuals, always trying to bring exclusives into the news budget, even within one news organization’s payroll. I doubt we will lose much of that competitive fire by sharing resources on the stories everyone has access to cover. What do other folks think?

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