Collaborative Journalism: A model to conceptualise, typify and criticise the phenomenon


This thesis aims to conceptualize, typify and criticize the models and types of collaborative journalism. The present research focuses on the everyday media practices of journalists and other professionals that are part or are conducting collaborative efforts in Latin America to build a general understanding of the phenomenon. The research will be performing a triangulation of practice-based and participant observation, semi-structured in-depth interviews and electronic-based survey, to achieve the following objectives: 1) critically understand the structures of organizations that promote collaborative journalism, their power and work/labour relations, their relationships with the market and media systems in various countries; 2) analyze the socio-technical processes that permeate and influence the action, production, narrative construction, distribution and circulation of the production; 3) evaluate business models, sustainability and the ability to perpetuate work and labour, as well as ensuring the delivery of values ​​and commitments to society and peers.

In recent years, scholars have investigated collaborative journalism, and there is an agreement that collaboration has always been part of journalism. However, the introduction of new information and communication technologies raised collaboration to a new status and gave it a unique role to play in the industry   (Sambrook, 2018; Serna, 2018; Stonbely, 2017). The present research will be employing the main features and dimensions defining collaborative journalism as follows: 1) a networked structure used by journalists and diverse entities and actors to connect and conduct collaborative journalism investigation (Serna, 2018) that, often, relies on 2) a mediator, for problem-solving, logistics and coordination of processes, also acting as an editorial model in an industry otherwise focused on exclusivity (Alfter, 2018); and it is 3) a form of production led by cooperation, sharing and co-authoring, also defined by Deuze and Witschge (2018) as a ‘co-creational space’ that benefits from a global outlook and collective knowledge.

Within current debates, little is known about how collaborative journalism is conducted in the Global South especially in Latin America and which external elements help to shape the professional culture of journalists (Mellado, et al., 2012).  The region, besides every disruption faced by journalism worldwide, still encounters singular situations such as over concentrated media ownership, increasing political polarization, and violence. The way in which investigative content is produced and which collaborative strategies are used in violent conditions is neglected within the literature (Saldaña and Mourão, 2018).

The current literature on journalistic investigations in Latin America focuses on two important considerations:  first, the business models (Warner, et al., 2017), that are highly supported and dependent on international foundations, and governmental subsidies (Fernandes, 2019), which make them even more subjected to local political fluctuations and influence. Requejo-Alemán and Lugo-Ocando (2014), for example, emphasize how difficult it has been for organizations in Latin America to be sustainable. And, second, technological influences and dependency on big tech platforms that, at the same time, are the ones that have also allowed journalists to collaborate in the first place.

Therefore, I argue that collaborative journalism has been performing a crucial role in Latin America to deliver quality journalism while holding power accountable, developing the media market and proposing new and innovative forms of connecting with audiences and influencing the public debate.