Collaborative journalism predictions for 2020

Dec 24, 2019 in Collaborative Journalism

One significant development in journalism over the last five years has been the emergence of major collaborative reporting efforts between newsrooms. 

In 2016, there was the Panama Papers and in 2017, the Paradise Papers — both international, cross-border collaborations exposing financial hideaways and connections of some of the world’s most rich and powerful. Here in the U.S., newsrooms working together have revealed how the National Rifle Association spends its money to wield influence, reported on economic mobility in Philadelphia and tracked hate crimes across the country.

At IJNet this year, we published our collaborative journalism toolkit full of expert resources for journalists interested in their own projects — big and small. We also spotlighted Petrofraude, a cross-border collaborative investigation that exposed corruption in Latin America; the Pangolin Reports, a transnational collaboration in Asia and Africa that sheds light on an under-reported aspect of illicit wildlife trade, and Spotlight PA, a collaborative investigative newsroom in Pennsylvania that launched this fall.

We spoke with some of collaborative journalism’s most integral players today, and asked them for their predictions on where the field is headed as we move into 2020. Here are their responses:

Rachel Glickhouse, ProPublica partnerships manager:

Next year will be a critical year for news partnerships. Between the [U.S.] election and the census, it’s more vital than ever that journalists work together to serve the public. ProPublica will hold Electionland again, building on lessons from our two previous iterations of the project and Documenting Hate, which ends this month. I think we’ll see other election and census-focused partnerships, and collaborations between national, local and ethnic media. I think more journalists are getting on board with the notion of working together, even between competitors, given the successes of the growing number of newsroom collaborations.

Something I’ve seen expand a lot the last few years are partnerships between local outlets, either in the same city or state. I hope we see more of those collaborations, especially given the challenges local media is facing. I’d love to see projects like Resolve Philadelphia and the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative replicated in other cities, and I hope we see more funding to ensure the longevity of newsroom partnerships.

Sarah Gustavus, Solutions Journalism Network Mountain West Region Manager:

In 2020, we will see more collaboration between grassroots news organizations and legacy media. Everyone brings unique strengths and talents to collaborative projects. Working together to cover shared issues, like housing, can help journalists reach new audiences and overcome resource limitations in their newsroom. We can produce even better journalism together!

Patrick Böhler, executive editor at, the international service of the Swiss public broadcaster:

Expect more competition among collaborative projects. Newsroom leaders have begun to realize that they have much to gain and not much to lose: content, expertise, and distribution. More collaborations will go beyond the sharing of information to also involve production and distribution, and they will include more scientists and experts. I worry about bad actors: as collaborations go mainstream, incentives are growing for infiltrating and manipulating such projects.  

Cassie Haynes, Co-Executive Director, and André Natta, Project Editor, Broke in Philly:

We're going to see the continued benefits of collaborative journalism. Outlets have been collaborating for a long time and now we're going to see more examples of how newsrooms benefit from working together and how it leads to better journalism. We're also going to see organizations explore new kinds of collaborations next year, working together in ways the industry isn't used to.

Stefanie Murray, Director, and Sarah Stonbely, Research Director, Center for Cooperative Media:

Collaborative journalism will become an even more integral practice for the industry worldwide in 2020. In the continued quest for economic sustainability in the digital age, smart collaboration is proving to be one of the most reliable ways for outlets to both maximize their resources and have an outsized impact. In the upcoming year we can expect more impactful collaborative investigations and fact-checking initiatives, to be sure, but we are also likely to see more collaborations around breaking news, which has historically been one of the trickier story types for partnerships to navigate. We also expect to see a greater number of collaborative efforts between journalists and non-news partners, such as NGOs and civic organizations. The tools and technology supporting collaboration are also steadily becoming more sophisticated.

Main image CC-licensed by Unsplash via Brooke Cagle