Currency of Collaboration

If we're collaborating on an art project, would you rather have access to my great paintings or my awesome set of paints?

In public radio, the currency of collaboration is often the painting. Or the "piece," really. It's the 3- to 5-minute story that's carefully crafted, rich with texture and color, and takes the listener somewhere compelling.

Trading in these paintings, though, is frought with problems. First, they have a high emotional investment. And very often, the painting looks (sounds) great on the walls (airwaves) of the local station, but doesn't quite fit the style of the station down the road. Or the national show.

To solve this, there are many local, regional and national workshops geared toward getting everyone to paint more like each other ... or at least make sure they match the walls of one particular house.

But maybe the answer is in collaborations centered around the tools of our trade, not the end result.

Time to experiment with collaborating around:
  • sources
  • expertise
  • technologies
  • reporter knowledge
  • shared experiences
  • experts we trust
  • techniques we use
  • tools we buy
  • investigations we undertake
  • widgets we make
Then, separately or together, the we can craft great works of journalism.

[photo 3rd foundation]
1 response
I work with John, so I'm already a biased believer in how he takes on problems. But we just finished covering the conventions, and John led a debrief with everyone involved in the effort. Among many striking moments was the repeated use of "radical collaboration" to describe how everyone worked together. Web people were thanking Engineering staff for taking pictures of prominent guests who came to our studio setups. Reporters and producers across four locations in the field and at HQ had a stronger understanding of what everyone was working on than ever before. One of the only complaints about the whole process was that there was no way for everyone in the field to enjoy what was being put on the air.

This was partly formed through many open meetings, involving everyone who could possibly be touched by this coverage. John has agitated in a lot of our design training and work to involve unlikely characters, from marketing to PR and down the line far from the Newsroom. The result often uncovers contributions and collaborations we would have previously overlooked, and gives you a staff that feels smarter and faster in its efforts.

So, trying to stick with the metaphor ... build a big palette and be open to sticking stark contrast on canvas? I dunno.