News Orgs Turn to Indie Sites for Coverage

By Andrew Gauthier 

Broadcasting & Cable

News organizations with shrinking budgets are forming an increasingly symbiotic relationship with a new wave of independent online news sites–many of them staffed by pink-slipped print reporters.

CBS News recently formalized a partnership with GlobalPost, which boasts 70 correspondents in more than 50 countries. The network’s news jewel, 60 Minutes, has an ongoing partnership with ProPublica, the site run by Paul Steiger and Stephen Engelberg, late of The Wall Street Journal and The Oregonian, respectively. PBS’ Frontline is also working on a project with ProPublica about the federal investigation into post-Katrina corruption within the New Orleans Police Department. And last month, the PBS program agreed to a resource-sharing deal with Tehran Bureau, a Website that established itself as a go-to source during Iran’s disputed elections last summer.

The knee-jerk reaction is that Western news groups are using these partnerships to put a Band-Aid over the gaping hole of cuts in their foreign bureaus. Technology has in fact made foreign reporting less expensive, less cumbersome and more immediate, in turn making the physical and personnel infrastructures of large foreign bureaus increasingly anachronistic. More…