Representatives of the four largest newspapers of Tennessee -- Nashville's Tennessean, Memphis' Commercial Appeal, Chattanooga Times-Free Press and Knoxville's News Sentinel -- met Feb. 4, 2009, to explore opportunities to cooperate to leverage their resources. During the discussion, all agreed that readers would be best served if the papers found ways to eliminate duplicate effort and share content of interest throughout the state.
With that in mind, here are proposed guidelines to a content-sharing arrangement:
*Once any paper publishes content, in print or online, the others are free to use it.
*Content can be used in its entirety in print.
*Online, a headline and paragraph or two can be used, with the story then linking to the originating paper's web site.
*Content should be fully credited to the originating newspaper, with bylines naming writers and newspaper and shirttails or taglines telling how to contact writers.
*Each paper will designate a point editor to facilitate coordination and address issues as they arise.
*Lists of subject-area editors also will be exchanged, and those editors will be encouraged to develop direct links with their counterparts to communicate about upcoming stories, exchange story budgets and e-mail each other photos and stories, including enterprise stories, according to their judgment. It's understood, however, that the generating paper controls the release of the content, and the papers realize that budgeted stories will sometimes be held.
*To facilitate the exchange of photos and graphics, an FTP site or similar shared resource may be established.
*Features content and coverage of each market's key institutions, unique attributes and major local breaking news events are expected to be of particular value.
*A special opportunity exists to cooperate on legislative coverage. A conference call will be arranged to bring capitol writers and their editors into the discussion to develop a plan for coordination.
A special opportunity also exists to collaborate on the 2010 governor's race, with the possibility of tag-teaming coverage, coordinating on enterprise projects such as ad-monitoring and, perhaps, sharing the costs of polling, possibly in cooperation with UT or MTSU.
*A regular conference call should be held, at least monthly, to exchange information about upcoming events and coverage plans and to look for fresh opportunities to coordinate.
*This is intended to be an informal, handshake deal that any party may terminate at any time. We will endeavor to address any problems that might arise as they come up.