From the Editor

Drescher: New partnerships help make The N&O better

jdrescher@newsobserver.comMay 12, 2012 

We collaborated with the N.C. Center for Voter Education in publishing a voters guide for Tuesday’s primary.

The center is a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Raleigh that encourages participation in democracy. The center asked candidates about their biography and platforms, and shared the responses with us.

We organized, designed and printed the 12-page section, which was part of last Saturday’s final edition. We edited the responses for space, when needed.

It takes a lot of legwork and time to write, distribute and collect surveys for more than 125 candidates. Working with the center freed our political reporters from this work, enabling them to concentrate on covering the candidates and the campaigns.

We wanted to provide you basic information about the candidates. So did the center – and it wanted to reach more people than it has in the past. Our collaboration supported our mission as well as the center’s.

Such arrangements are becoming common across the industry and at The News & Observer. These alliances are done for different specific reasons. But in general, they enable us to gain expertise, stretch our budget and produce a better report.

Here are some other joint efforts that either are in place or soon will be:

• In 2010, we joined seven other media organizations to sue UNC-Chapel Hill for records related to the NCAA investigation of the football program. Legal representation is expensive but far more affordable when costs are divided eight ways. This coalition of news organizations across the state also shows a united front of journalists. We have won access to some records; the judge has not decided other parts of our request.

• In March, we published results of a poll of North Carolina residents about a variety of issues. Elon University conducted the poll for several media outlets, including The N&O and ABC11. We helped draft the questions and published several articles about the results.

Soon you will see ABC11’s weather team giving video forecasts three times a day at newsobserver.com. We have many experts on our staff on a variety of subjects – but weather forecasting is not one of them. This collaboration will enable us to offer local weather expertise that we otherwise would not be able to provide. Also, we regularly will run excerpts from a blog written by ABC11 chief meteorologist Chris Hohmann.

• We will be working with the online news site Raleigh Public Record to bring you expanded coverage of local government. Raleigh Public Record is a nonprofit that covers meetings of some city boards, such as the Raleigh Planning Commission, that we don’t typically attend. We will publish some of their stories in The N&O and in two of our community papers, North Raleigh News and Midtown Raleigh News.

• We work daily with other McClatchy papers. Now we have a new joint effort with a paper outside our company. The Daily Reflector of Greenville will publish our coverage of the murder trial over the death of Kathy Taft, a member of the state Board of Education from Greenville who died in Raleigh. We will publish some of the Reflector’s coverage of ECU football.

• We soon will have another year-long reporting fellow financed by the Collegiate Network, an association of independent college newspapers, most of which lean right. This money comes with no strings attached. We’ve had several other Collegiate Network fellows in the past three years. They’ve done well; we’ve hired two for full-time reporting jobs.

Drescher: 919-829-4515 or jdrescher@newsobserver.com. On Twitter @john_drescher

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