Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Can two reporters co-write a story at the exact same time in different cities?

Yes. Turns out, they can.  

A few weeks ago, I learned some heart-wrenching details about the story of a man who was killed in the Colorado floods. The writer in me desperately wanted to cover the story, in a narrative form. 

But I learned that Whitney Bryen, a reporter at the Times-Call, was already writing a news story about a fundraiser for his family. It seemed overkill to write two stories, yet insufficient to run just one. Both Whitney and I had already conducted interviews, unknowing, of different people sharing different sides of the same story. 

So how could we best leverage our time spent with the smart usage of space -- and time? 

We decided to co-write the story together -- simultaneously, in Google Drive, from different cities. I wrote the lead, then I jumped down to what I knew of his story while she wrote the next few graphs, and we worked back and forth as a team, editing and adjusting, until we had crafted one story out of two voices. 

Before, this coverage would have been two separate pieces of the same story, slightly overlapping and maybe even passively competitive. But together, we wrote one of the most moving, full-pictured narratives I've ever been blessed to co-byline. 

The process of writing alongside Whitney was equally as inspirational and moving as the story that we told. Read it here: "You don't leave anyone behind."

How often could you tell richer stories if you shifted your workflow and habits and decided to work with other reporters and newsrooms, using technology as your bridge? 

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