In May 2021, the editors of New Hampshire’s two statewide business publications--Matt Mowry, of Business NH and Jeff Feingold, of NH Business Review-- sat down for a story meeting. Though they’d mixed in the same circles, covered the same businesses and had been in many rooms together before, this meeting was different.
At the top of the meeting, Matt said to Jeff, “I just have to take a minute to mark this historic occasion. In 20 years, you and I have never sat down together to talk about stories.”
Jeff smiled, nodded and said, “Well, you know, some things are just too important not to work together.”
The Granite State News Collaborative is a collective of more than 20 local media, education and community partners working together to produce and share news stories on the issues that most impact our state. The hope is that by working together we can provide more information to more communities across New Hampshire than we could individually.
We do this by sharing partner-generated news, coordinating coverage on statewide events and issues and co-producing project-based series and stories.
Local news is more important than ever. However, decline in public trust in journalism, years of economic decline in the industry and the financial impact of COVID-19 has hit many newsrooms across the state hard. Yet, they haven’t stopped getting vital information to the communities they serve, The Collaborative has become an integral part of making that possible.
GSNC is a collaboration of unprecedented scope in New Hampshire, born out of necessity to keep communities informed on issues they care about most, and to transform the future of local news in our state. Because GSNC's work is statewide, we have the potential to impact – through print, digital, and broadcast outlets – virtually every resident of New Hampshire as well as portions of Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.
In addition to coordinating this effort, The Collaborative fills in reporting gaps, by contributing in-depth, solutions-focused stories and series Collaborative partners can publish on any of their platforms. This structure allows our partners to provide more rigorously reported news to their communities than their own limited resources would otherwise support.
In 2020, in addition to covering the impacts of COVID, we also coordinated statewide reporting on the 2020 General Election (something that had never been done in NH before), and covered the threat of violence in our state capitol.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, news organizations in New Hampshire and around the country were forced to cut or furlough staff due to the pandemic's economic impact. At a time when local communities in New Hampshire were in most need of critical information, the Collaborative filled a critical information gap.
Between March and December 2020, our partners cross-published roughly 1,700 stories – about 400 of which were produced by Collaborative freelancers. Additionally, nine of our 17 media outlets worked directly with Collaborative freelancers on multiple stories and projects--all paid for by the Collaborative and shared with all Collaborative partners.
Though partners initially only agreed to share Covid related coverage, within a few months they’d expanded that agreement to include racial and social justice related issues. All of the partners have agreed to continue this arrangement indefinitely and recently, a supermajority of our partners agreed to expand the stories they share with partners to include “any issue of statewide interest.”
GSNC's work has helped to replace competition with cooperation. Before our organization was formed, examples of New Hampshire news outlets actually working together on anything were few and far between. Now, however, cooperation happens daily – because our resources and communication system allow outlets to share news stories, coordinate coverage and even co-produce projects.
Our work has also helped to retain talented journalists who were struggling during the pandemic and might well have left our state. In 2020, we kept a rotating crew of more than 20 journalists – many of them laid-off reporters, full-time freelancers, and recent grads – employed.
Further, we enhanced our statewide impact last year by co-producing a digital public affairs show with NH PBS as well as a nonpartisan legislative podcast done with our community partner Citizens Count that encourages and offers information on how the public can have input on legislation. We also partnered with leaders from NH’s Latinx communities to help The Collaborative and our partners at NH Public Radio produce news in Spanish-- something that didn’t exist in New Hampshire. This group is also working to increase the amount of Spanish-language news available to audiences across New Hampshire.
All of this, it's important to note, is offered for free to the public and to all of our partners.
As that “day to day” sharing and coordination of coverage on emerging issues continues, we also collectively launched a multi-year examination of race and equity in New Hampshire.
Diversity has always been a part of New Hampshire. While we are not as diverse as other states, we are rapidly becoming more so. Today, our state’s diversity is deepening and it’s becoming even more vital to the health of our state’s economy, our institutions and our cities and towns. Simply, our state’s success will rely in many ways on the decisions we make today regarding communities of color, equity and injustice.
Recognizing this, our Editorial Board and partners are in agreement that this is an urgent topic that requires in-depth coverage that no one outlet can do on its own.
Through this multi-year initiative, the Collaborative and its partners will highlight the stories of people of color in New Hampshire and work with them to amplify their voices. We also will investigate the policies and systems in place that have had disproportionately negative impacts on communities of color.
As part of the project, The Collaborative and its partners will gather the data that will help analyze where disparities exist, rigorously report the impact of those disparities on communities and the solutions that may address those areas of concern. The areas of focus will include policing/criminal justice, economic opportunity, affordable housing, health, education and access to civic engagement.
You support makes all of this possible. We need to keep our local news outlets strong. Our communities depend on it. We've done good work, but we're not done yet. Please consider a donation today.
Our local news partners:
The Berlin Daily Sun, Business NH Magazine, The Business Journal of Greater Keene, Brattleboro and Peterborough, The Concord Monitor, The Conway Daily Sun, The Eagle Times, The Eagle-Tribune, The Keene Sentinel, The Laconia Daily Sun, Manchester Ink Link, The Marlin Fitzwater Center at Franklin Pierce University, The Nashua Telegraph, NH Bar News, NH Business Review, NH Fiscal Policy Institute, New Hampshire Press Association, New Hampshire PBS, NH Public Radio, The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, Seacoast Media Group, and The Valley News.
For a full list of education and community partners visit collaborativenh.org