Trust, a ‘convergence of purpose”, transparency and agreement on goals and impact are central if news organisations are to collaborate successfully, Chani Guyot told the virtual World News Media Congress.
The founder and director of Argentina’s RED/Acción – launched three years ago with a focus on journalism, and encouraging audience participation – says the publication is “hacking extreme negativity with solutions journalism”.
RED/Acción produces articles around climate change, gender equality, social inclusion, education, health and tech for social change. “We also work a lot with audience participation, and we have some evidence that our journalism activates communities of citizens committed to social change,” he says.
RED/Acción’s membership programme is still small, but Guyot said the newsroom has a very good relationship with members who serve as sources, bring questions or share their experiences, thoughts and testimonies.
Some 67 per cent of RED/Acción’s audience are women, 58 per cent are younger than 40, and 76 per cent access content on mobile.
RED/Acción’s 12 newsletters are “probably the most successful part of the operation”, according to Guyot, although they also pay attention to social networks and have a strong community on Instagram.
During his presentation, Guyot highlighted three collaborative initiatives RED/Acción has been involved in since its launch.
The Human Journalism Network – Red de Periodismo Humano – created in March this year, saw seven Latin American media organisations join forces with RED/Acción in order to republish each other’s human interest stories to increase their impact, and reach new audiences.
The partner organisations, based in Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Chile, are all small or medium-sized and share values similar to those of RED/Acción.
“It’s very important to be very specific when designing inputs and outputs,” Guyot said. “Always look into how much you put into a project and how much you get out of it. In this example, we were looking for more reach and new audiences, and for the first time, some of our stories were read outside of Argentina.”
Pandemic Scars – in which RED/Acción was also invited to participate with Latin American news organisations covering how the pandemic and lockdowns affected the middle class – also yielded ‘amazing’ results.
“It took a lot of time and effort but the results were amazing in terms of diversity of voices and narratives,” Guyot said.
He called R RED/Acción’s participation in Pandemic Scars (Cicatrices de la Pandemia) an enormous learning experience for all, and highlighted the importance of understanding the puzzle, delivering one’s specific value, assuming one’s role and playing that part.
“We achieved the kind of coverage you can’t do by yourself,” he said.
As part of the Solutions for Latin America initiative (Soluciones para América Latina), RED/Acción teamed up with Infobae, the largest Spanish-speaking media in terms of reach.
“When you talk about extreme collaboration, one of the aspects that defines it is collaboration among diverse actors,” Guyot said. The initiative saw RED/Acción publish one solutions journalism story per day on Infobae’s homepage – with the RED/Acción newsroom fully in charge – and built its own archive with these kinds of stories.
“When you clarify your own goals and how you measure impact, everything becomes quite clear. We said we needed to grow and find new audiences outside Argentina. Infobae was the number one option, they liked it and embraced the idea,” Guyot said. “They get quality journalism. In these three years, we built a reputation with regards to these stories and the craft to make them work, also in terms of clicks and reach.”
For news organisations keen to collaborate with others, Guyot offered a five key elements and learnings:
-Think about what makes your journalism unique and what you bring to the table;
-Collaborations have to have a foundation of trust, which is built through time and relationship;
-Create a shared narrative; ensure everybody is aligned and on the same page;
-Transparency is absolutely essential; share metrics with each partner; and
-Agree on goals and impact.
WAN-Ifra/ Simone Flueckiger with thanks