Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Every few months, it seems, the media focuses on the latest horrific mass shooting. Tragedies, certainly. But this single-minded focus distorts the picture of how guns impact the lives of Americans.

That’s why we launched Guns & America, a two-year collaborative reporting project with 10 public media partners. With generous support from The Kendeda Fund, we created Guns
& America to tell the full story — to use the power of local reporting to bring context, nuance, and a human face to some of the most complex and divisive topics of our day. We believed that by drawing coverage from multiple stations in diverse geographies, the project would move audiences in ways that go beyond a single perspective or media provider, and that our partner public media stations could serve their communities better through this approach.

Three years later, we’ve learned a lot about how to work together to produce journalism with impact, and we’re firm believers in the power of collaboration. Public media in particular can leverage the power of editorial collaboration to do great things and better serve the public.

We have collected some of our most important recommendations, catalogued what worked well and what was challenging, and listed the important questions you’ll want to answer before embarking on ambitious plans of your own. We have also included a deep dive on the formation and structure of Guns & America as a case study in collaboration.

We hope you can use this playbook to double-down on some of our successful strategies and avoid some of the roadblocks that inevitably await. And, ultimately, we hope that you use it to multiply the power of your journalism.

Jeremy Bernfeld, Director, Guns & America
Director of Collaborative Reporting, WAMU 88.5