Shorenstein Center Paper by Former Newspaper Editor Sandy Rowe Argues for Collaboration in Investigative Reporting

June 2, 2011
Doug Gavel, Harvard Kennedy School Communications Office

CAMBRIDGE, MA. — Media organizations may be able to perform their watchdog roles more effectively working together than apart. That is one conclusion in a new paper, "Partners of Necessity: The Case for Collaboration in Local Investigative Reporting," authored by Sandy Rowe, former editor of Portland’s The Oregonian. The paper is based on interviews and research that Rowe conducted while serving as a Knight Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

Rowe's research examines the theory underpinning collaborative work and shows emerging models of collaboration that can lead to more robust investigative and accountability reporting in local and regional markets.

“Growing evidence suggests that collaborations and partnerships between new and established news organizations, universities and foundations may be the overlooked key for investigative journalism to thrive at the local and state levels,” Rowe writes. “These partnerships, variously and often loosely organized, can share responsibility for content creation, generate wider distribution of stories and spread the substantial cost of accountability journalism.”

Rowe was editor of The Oregonian from 1993 until January 2010. Under her leadership, the newspaper won five Pulitzer Prizes including the Gold Medal for Public Service. Rowe chairs the Board of Visitors of The Knight Fellowships at Stanford University and is a board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists. From 1984 until April 1993, Rowe was executive editor and vice president of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Virginian-Pilot won the Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting under her leadership. Rowe's year-long fellowship at the Shorenstein Center was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Photograph of Sandy Rowe

Sandy Rowe, former Knight Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

“Growing evidence suggests that collaborations and partnerships between new and established news organizations, universities and foundations may be the overlooked key for investigative journalism to thrive at the local and state levels,” Rowe writes. “These partnerships, variously and often loosely organized, can share responsibility for content creation, generate wider distribution of stories and spread the substantial cost of accountability journalism.”

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