Say Hello to…The Chicago News Cooperative

While there’s much disagreement about the future of news—what it should look like, whom it should cater to, how it should be funded, etc., etc.—there’s one area of near-universal accord: the notion that collaboration should and will be a key component of journalism’s future. Many of the new projects we’ve seen springing up lately—The New York Times’s collaboration with KQED, UC Berkeley, and others for a Bay Area edition of the paper; Ohio papers’ content-sharing agreements through the the Ohio News Organization; The Huffington Post’s partnership with the New York Review of Books;’s affiliation with USC; and on and on—take to heart (and in many cases, to pocketbook) the notion that, when it comes to the future of information, we’re truly in this together.

Today brings the announcement of another collaborative venture—the Chicago News Cooperative, a nonprofit news network bringing together editors from the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and other outlets to provide public service journalism—news and commentary that is professionally edited—to the Chicago area. The CNC will have a leg up when it comes to market competition: not only will its content be edited by James O’Shea, former editor of the LAT, and advised by veteran journalist (and CJR vice chairman) Peter Osnos, but it will also start with a plum outlet for its work. CNC will be providing content for a Chicago edition of The New York Times, which will be launched on November 20.

Joining the cooperative is WTTW, Chicago’s public television station, which will supply in-kind services in return for news content. CNC is also exploring resource-sharing arrangements with other Chicago media, today’s press release notes—WBEZ, for example, the city’s public radio station. The CNC also plans to operate a stand-alone newsroom, sharing resources with other media in Chicago and eventually sharing content. A CNC Web site, to be called Chicago Scoop, will launch in early 2010.

Though the initiative is currently funded principally by the MacArthur Foundation, the hope is that the CNC will diversify its funding base enough—through membership fees, advertising, and the like—to be self-sustaining within five years.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.