How cross-border collaboration could help scientific journalism
Cooperation and engagement between journalists in different countries to reach information
Journalism is not a country thing. There are topics and questions that need an international and cross-border collaborative approach to be investigated. In the last few years, many global scientific challenges arose and pointed out the necessity of breaking the boundaries between different countries. To properly address scientific challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic or the climate crisis, going beyond national borders becomes a need not only for science and research but also for information. Country confinement becomes a limitation for information and cross-border collaborative journalism is the solution.
One of the key aspects of cross-border collaborative journalism, as its name suggests, is collaboration and engagement between journalists. Engagement is a crucial ingredient for success in news coverage, and this is especially true when dealing with transnational topics concerning society, the economy, and scientific issues of general interest. But for engagement to be effective, it is crucial to constantly gather input from both local audiences and journalists in a two-way, repeated process.
This applies not only to journalism in the broader sense but also to science journalism in particular: success stories of the application of engagement among journalists around the world have shown that cross-border collaborative journalism should become a methodology for successful reporting. All emphasize that scientific topics of public interest require a cross-border collaborative dimension to be addressed and discovered. Examples are the monitoring of investments based on European funding, specific issues and difficulties affecting society - such as the housing crisis or the consequences of pandemics -, international inquiries and investigations, and shared crises and emergencies such as climate change.
Collaborative cross-border journalism: success stories
The activities carried out by collaborative cross-border journalism involve sharing data and contacts, conducting broader surveys and studies, and creating shared maps and databases to collect statistically significant and quantitative results about the subject matter. As an example, the creation of a network to share knowledge and information on housing (such as the Arena housing project) was crucial to identify the main responsibilities for the housing crises that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic and to covering missing information on the housing market regulation at the international level. Similarly, the efforts of journalists from the European community made it possible, for the first time, to uncover the beneficiaries of the annual billion Euro subsidies to the agricultural sector. The Farmsubsidy project, in this case, was able to attract several funds and, after more than 15 years, is still active with the overall objective of facilitating access to information on how the EU spends its subsidies within the framework of agricultural policy in order to foster an informed public debate.
Finally, the results achieved by projects such as Arena housing and Farmsubsidy have also been crucial for European politicians and municipalities, who were trying to regulate markets without accurate information and without having a general view of the situation and the actions to be taken.