SALT LAKE CITY — Media insiders noted the launch this week of an unlikely collaboration between The Atlantic and Deseret News. Each organization is contributing two stories to a four-part series called The Father Factor. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.
The differences between the two publications are what made the pairing interesting, according to Paul Edwards, the editor of Deseret News.
"So often the issues of family are used as a wedge issue in politics,” Edwards told The New York Times. “We thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if two quite different publications — one aimed at a values-oriented heartland audience, The Atlantic providing thought-provoking insight to a coastal elite — could actually say something substantive."
While the pairing might seem unexpected, the Columbia Journalism Review noted that both organizations are seen as leaders in the digital media space and that the two publishers share common journalism interests — in this case a study of the state of the family:
So often the issues of family are used as a wedge issue in politics. We thought, wouldn't it be interesting if two quite different publications — one aimed at a values-oriented heartland audience, The Atlantic providing thought-provoking insight to a coastal elite — could actually say something substantive.
"… (T)he Salt Lake City-based paper has been pursuing an unusual regional/national strategy that has had it veering into magazine territory for years. It focuses on a few subject areas — 'family, faith, care for the poor, education, values in the media, and financial responsibility' — and tries to own them, a strategy that has helped drive growth nationally in both Web traffic and, surprisingly, its Sunday print edition, which nearly doubled in circulation ... in the last few years. It also made a collaboration with a magazine more of a natural fit."
The Atlantic is a Washington, D.C.-based magazine with roots as a progressive literary monthly. Deseret News, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the oldest newspaper in the intermountain area.
Both publications have roots in the 1850s but have drawn attention for innovative changes to adapt to a digital world — The Atlantic with The Wire and Quartz and Deseret News with Deseret Digital Media and Deseret Connect, a contributor and syndication network.
Commentary on the project came from corners as diverse as new-media juggernaut Buzzfeed and industry standard Poynter Institute, which pointed out the collaboration trend as an important component to new journalism business models.
“Collaboration will be a fruitful model going forward,” Edwards told Poynter. “Editorial specialization is a logical response to the nature of the Web. So there needs to be trading to acquire content and share expertise.”
The series wraps up with Part 4 on Wednesday.
Disclosure: Both KSL.com and Deseret News are owned by Deseret Management Corporation.