Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Shock! Horror! Publishers co-operate with each other. In Ohio.

Many thanks to Merenda for drawing my attention to this story about the "OHNO" agreement between newspapers across the state of Ohio to share their stories with each other.

The unfortunately acronymed OHio News Organisation is explained thus by Plain Dealer columnist Ted Diadiun:

It took a bit of doing because the competitive instinct is in every good journalist's DNA, and most of us would swallow our notebooks before we'd share what's in them with another reporter. We've spent our professional lives trying to keep other newspapers from getting our good stories. Now, we're giving them away.


In today's world, breaking news is measured in minutes, not days. It's important that we provide our readers with the best news report we can, as soon as we can, on our Web site and in the best and most current newspaper possible each day.

With the OHNO plan, each afternoon we and the other members post the stories our reporters have written on a common Web site that's accessible only in the eight newsrooms. From there, editors at each paper select which stories they want to run. So the Cincinnati Enquirer was able to give its readers our coverage on the National City bank problems, and our editors were able to pick off the Enquirer's coverage of Fifth Third Bank, which is based in Cincinnati.

That doesn't mean we're not competing. For example, both The Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch have reporters working hard to break news about the sexual-harassment charges besetting Attorney General Marc Dann's office. The difference now is that when we get to a good story first, not only our readers get to see it, but so do readers of the Dispatch and the other papers.

It's worth reading Ted's column in full.

It got me idly wondering whether this principle (which seems to me to be a very efficient and grown-up way of doing things) could be applied to the kind of weekly/monthly business magazines that we produce.

Could, for example, Estates Gazette (which we own) share news with Property Week (which we don't)? Almost certainly not - they compete head to head in a way that newspapers in different cities do not.

But how about Computer Weekly teaming up with an IT title from the US or one operating in a specialist market that CW doesn't compete directly with?

Could it happen?

No comments: