Bridge Pittsburgh
Bridge Pittsburgh

About our project


About the project

Partners in the collaborative will coordinate reporting and publishing stories in 2020 on a topic that affects people across the region. The goal is to direct resources toward an issue that needs our attention and to produce a series of stories on it that couldn’t be produced by one news outlet alone. In short, to tell a story that needs to be told, giving it the coverage it deserves and generating a needed community conversation.

Partners will have access to a $30,000 resource fund to help with the effort — both reporting and community engagement. Bridge Pittsburgh is also providing a full-time project editor, AmyJo Brown, to facilitate decision-making, planning, community engagement and to be an overall central resource.

The next steps

News outlets, independent journalists and students interested in becoming partners or working on the project will meet Oct. 30th to brainstorm and select the project’s focus during a workshop hosted and facilitated by Bridge Pittsburgh.

Partners will then formalize their relationship with the collaborative through a memorandum of understanding. The MOU will address issues such as the editorial calendar and publication strategy, communication and workflow and the approval process for distributing money from the resource fund.

The reporting and publishing period will be from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020.

What will each partner contribute?

While not all partners will be able to offer the same resources or time to the project, we will ask that everyone dedicate some staff resources toward it and participate consistently through the end. 

The minimum commitment will be to produce three to four stories or programs over that year-long period. The goal overall is to keep the conversation going throughout the year among all our audiences and to help the community bring significant attention and solutions to an issue that needs it. 

Each partner must also assign a point person from their organization to serve as their representative on the project. This representative will cast the organization’s vote regarding distribution of the resource fund.

The founding partners in the project may discuss, adjust and agree on other baseline expectations taking into account the project’s focus, what is needed to execute the goals for it, and each partner’s skills, capacity and expertise.

How will decisions be made?

After the October workshop determines the focus of the project, a second workshop will be held to formalize the structure of the collaborative by defining the terms of the MOU all partners will sign.

Generally-speaking, however, decisions that significantly impact the purpose, direction or operations of the collaborative will be made by consensus or majority-vote among the partners. 

Each partner will retain editorial control over their own work and will not be obligated to share their work with other partners — although partners may choose to do so along the way. Partners will coordinate on the release date(s) for their work. 

The goal is to support each organization and one another in serving the story and our communities.

How will the resource fund be distributed? 

The $30,000 fund available to the collaborative must be spent on resources that benefit all partners, as well as the project. A percentage of the fund will be set aside to contract with freelancers, based on pitches they submit. 

Partners will decide together how to spend the money — using a short list of consistent criteria applied across all requests, followed by a consensus or majority vote. 

All work commissioned by the collaborative with freelancers will be available for all the partners to republish — or tailor to their own audiences.

The exact amount to be set aside in that fund, as well as the other criteria that will be used to evaluate partners’ own proposals will be determined by the founding partners during the MOU process.

What are examples of a resource that would benefit everyone? 

Partners in other collaboratives have invested in things like: 

  • A lead data analyst who assisted reporters at the different organizations in mining a dataset important to the project’s topic.

  • Training and paying teen journalists to contribute profiles of other teens killed by gun violence — (work was shared for publication and professional journalists then built off that work for follow-up stories and localized stories).

  • Experiments in online engagement techniques (tools, strategies) that everyone could apply to their own organizations.

But collaborative projects are very new. There is no playbook for this yet. Both the topic and the mix of the founding partners will inform what is needed and what will help. 

How will Bridge Pittsburgh support the partners? 

We will provide project management, facilitation, and training and editing support as needed. 

Bridge Pittsburgh will also host ongoing community workshops and listening sessions throughout the year on the topic, facilitating a two-way conversation between partners and their audiences. Partners will be able to attend these in person — and access the resulting documentation, which they can use to help inform their coverage.

We will also help partners leverage their group power to attract other resources to the region and to investigate and experiment with innovative ideas and tools that can help their business models.