WYSO joins statewide collaborative called The Ohio Newsroom
WYSO and other public media organizations partnered to launch The Ohio Newsroom earlier this month. The state-wide collaborative will become Ohio’s largest daily radio and digital news service. Chris Welter spoke about the newsroom with its coordinator, Wendy Turner.
Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity):
Chris Welter: How did The Ohio Newsroom come to be?
Wendy Turner: Well, a few years ago, some of the stations in our state started talking about ways to be more proactive in our collaborations. The public radio stations in Ohio have been very collaborative. We share content with each other. We've started doing collaborative projects together. There's always been a good sense of working together, but we thought a few years ago that there could be much more we could do together. It was in light of losses of reporting resources in our communities and the quickening pace of the news cycle. The question was if we work together, could we put together an initiative that would allow us to have greater impact statewide by working more closely together? So the George Gund Foundation supported some research to look at audiences in Ohio and ask them if they want more coverage and if so, 'What kind of coverage?' Then we also used some of that funding to survey news station leadership and administrative leadership to see if there was interest, and capacity, to do more, and there was in all cases.
Welter: Why do you think Ohio needs this initiative right now?
Turner: In my previous role as general manager of WKSU, I would talk to people who worked at institutions, whether government or nonprofits or people in the community, and they were like , 'We don't even have a phone number or email address that we can contact in the media to tell them about this important initiative or this important thing that's going on. It just doesn't exist anymore.'
What public radio has already is infrastructure that covers our populations–our broadcast is free and it covers a huge portion of the population of the state, and so by mobilizing those resources, this is a way for us to actually have a greater impact.
Welter: How can people support the Ohio newsroom?
Turner: Be on the lookout for content on your local public radio station. One of the things that's part of the development of this is that this is not a separate entity where we're going to have a website and we're going to be trying to get people to come to the Ohio newsroom. This is really content that's going to be produced and showcased for stations at stations.
Then we'll be looking for feedback from our listeners around the state. The stations will be wanting to know what people think. And also, we'll be soliciting ideas for content. What kinds of stories do people want to hear?
Welter: What's your dream for this in five years?
Turner: I really hope that we will have a team of reporters and producers who are dedicated to working on the Ohio newsroom on behalf of stations. One of the other things that we learned in our research leading up to this is that all of our stations have a desire to do more and to participate more but capacity within stations to do more is just limited. So we want to be able to build a team of reporters and producers who can do multimedia content that has a daily presence, but also more sophisticated reporting projects. I would love to see us get to a place in five years where every station in Ohio sees Ohio Newsroom content as being a marquee part of what they offer to their communities.
Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.