by Leah Todd, New England Region Manager, Solutions Journalism Network
or the past year, 17 news organizations in New Hampshire — plus a university and the state press association — have worked together to produce a series of stories on responses to the state’s mental health and opioid crises. This group, the Granite State News Collaborative, had planned in mid-March to announce its new focus for 2020: reporting on economic opportunity in New Hampshire.
Then COVID-19 hit.
“Our partner newsrooms and audiences are consumed with, and have a craving for, solid, accurate information about the Coronavirus in New Hampshire and what is being done about it,” Melanie Plenda, the collaborative’s director, wrote to participating editors on March 11. “The more we can share stories with each other, the easier it might be on our newsrooms to cover this beast and the better we can inform the public who live, work and travel all over the state.”
Three weeks later, participating newsrooms have cross-published nearly 100 stories on the rapidly changing COVID-19 virus. Editors share story ideas as well as stories through a Google folder, and a team of freelancers has produced roughly 30 stories so far, which any participating outlet can publish. By almost every measure, the collaborative’s social media presence is way up.
Many of the stories have focused not on chronicling the virus’s spread, but on examining and vetting responses emerging from within the state and without — including plans to test “drive-through” voting at local town meetings; how neighboring Vermont, then New Hampshire, reduced prison populations to slow COVID-19’s spread; and how a surge of more than 300 retired health care workers responded to the state nurses’ association call for help.
Read the full story here.