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?