Interest in addressing public problems through collaboration among the government, business, and non-profit sectors is on the rise. Meanwhile, many journalists are searching to better understand the mechanics, benefits, and limitations of these relationships. Journalists have a key role to play in covering these partnerships thoroughly, not only to fulfill the Fourth Estate’s mission of holding public officials and agencies accountable for their work in these collaborations, but also in educating the public about cross-sector collaboration as a potential model for addressing their community’s problems — both its benefits and limitations.
Informed by 30 interviews with journalists and leaders from organizations that support journalism, as well as an analysis of nearly 250 stories of cross-sector collaboration from 10 newspapers across the country, this report explores how the press covers cross-sector collaboration in the United States and the difficulties journalists face in in covering it well. The report also offers recommendations for components of an education module for journalists on the topic, including a critical review of coverage, techniques for creating interesting stories that are focused on process, guidance on identifying expert sources, and more.