Collaboration is key — local media systems working together

hands with microphones against blue background

By Briana Oldham, Cleveland Foundation Equity Communications and Engagement Fellow

In the year that once was, 2020 threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. Despite all the trials and tribulations, one theme that emerged was collaboration. Whether it was teaming up on Zoom or a socially distanced meeting in the park, working together proved to be successful no matter the distance apart. In Greater Cleveland, one area in which we saw this phenomenon was journalism.

In December, The City Club of Cleveland hosted a discussion with local outlets to talk about the work they’re doing. Moderated by Neighborhood Connections’ Lila Mills, participants talked in depth about highlights and areas of opportunity as they move forward on their journalism journey. You can watch a recording of their conversation here:

Though there was more than enough news at the national level, the community expressed that they wanted and needed more coverage closer to home. Thankfully, there are multiple ongoing efforts to support local journalism here in our community:

  • A Greater Buckeye – a hyper-local news agency, currently digital only, that focuses on the positivity of the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood
  • The Buckeye Flame – the only state-wide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) publication, currently digital only; it focuses on LGBTQ people of color
  • Cleveland Observer – community engagement news, currently in print and digital; it focuses on the east and south sides of Cleveland
  • The Devil Strip – the country’s first local news co-operative; owned by 600 readers and reporters, it is currently in print and digital and focuses on Akron and the surrounding area
  • The Land – a local news startup that focuses on government and accountability in Cleveland’s neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs
  • Profile News Ohio – the largest Arabic-language newspaper in Ohio; reporting in both English and Arabic, it is currently in print and digital and focuses on the Arabic-speaking community
  • The Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEO SOJO) – a local news collaborative that includes 22 partner newsrooms, reporters and community organizations; currently digital, it focuses on Cleveland and Akron.

With such a robust list, there is something here for everyone. I often say you don’t know what you don’t know. This means if you’re unaware of general information, how do you know what questions to ask? Giving residents a voice is a desired goal for Cleveland Documenters, a civic journalism pilot program launched in partnership with Neighborhood Connections and City Bureau. The bedrock on which Cleveland Documenters was created is empowering and equipping Clevelanders to participate in and report on city and county meetings. As someone who has always wondered what the various local meetings look like, Documenters provides an in-depth view from regular people right in the community. Being a recent journalism graduate, seeing these key partnerships involving community and with collaboration at the center, I am hopeful for tomorrow. For more information on how to get involved, click here.

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