A group of news, education and media outlets, including Business NH Magazine, recently launched the Granite State News Collaborative (GSNC), a news cooperative that is tackling the opioid crisis and mental health issues facing NH through its first project dubbed "Granite Solutions."
The GSNC is a group of news, education and media outlets that are working together to pool resources, time and talent to create stories that start conversations, investigate possible solutions and ultimately benefit their communities and their readers.
The collaborative’s first project will be a series of multimedia stories that take a look at the behavioral health crises hitting NH. It is a complex issue that connects addiction, social isolation, dislocation resulting from economic change, the out-migration of youth, and marginalization.
“It spans all populations and areas, rural and urban, and has relevance for all kinds of media and audiences, broad and narrow,” says Kristen Nevious, director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce University and a member of the collaborative.
By crossing geographic and institutional lines that traditionally would keep these outlets from working together, the collaborative’s founding members and board are aiming to provide robust, rigorous and complete coverage of these issues in order to get at under-reported stories and amplify voices and angles that have been overlooked.
“When I brought the idea of a news collaborative to some of my colleagues last year, the response was heartening, and in a few short months, we've created something new and exciting for New Hampshire,” says Carol Robidoux, founding member of The Granite State News Collaborative and publisher of Manchester Ink Link. “What we hope this collaborative signals to readers - and to the powers that be - is that news publishers here are committed to discovering why our state consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to unmet behavioral health needs, and how we might use solutions journalism to turn that around.”
The Collaborative’s first project is funded through a $45,000 grant from Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance solutions journalism, the practice of reporting with equal rigor not only on challenges and problems but also on responses with a proven track record of effectiveness.
“The GSNC will focus its collective resources on in-depth, evidence-based reporting on behavioral health in an effort to bring new depth, life and understanding to this issue,” says Dawn Deangelis, vice president and chief content officer of NH PBS and a member of the collaborative. “Using a Solutions Journalism Model we will be asking questions and telling stories about the challenges, what’s working and what’s not and the responses of everyday Granite Staters striving to solve these problems.”
The founding members of The GSNC include: The Berlin Daily Sun, Business NH Magazine, The Eagle-Tribune, The Laconia Daily Sun, Manchester Ink Link, The Marlin Fitzwater Center at Franklin Pierce University, NH Bar News, NH Business Review, NH PBS, Purple States and Seacoast Media Group.
The project manager for the collaborative is Melanie Plenda, a longtime journalist in NH. Her award-winning work has been featured in numerous national, regional and local publications, including Business NH Magazine.
“I am struck by the dedication of this group,” says Plenda. “We all believe in this project and the collaborative and the ability of both to bring readers more and to serve them better together than we can separately.”
In addition to stories, the collaborative is also launching a pilot student engagement and journalism training program with Souhegan High School; will host community engagement events centered on the collaborative’s behavioral health coverage and is partnering with Dartmouth Hitchcock on a youth summit in the spring.
The first story produced by the Granite Solutions project is up on member sites, which is the story of Laconia Daily Sun Managing Editor Roger Carroll, who experienced firsthand how the state's mental health system works, and doesn’t work, when he went through a personal crisis and sought help in 2018.
The collaborative is offering access on its inaugural story to non-members. Access to future content will be limited to collaborative members only. The Collaborative is actively seeking additional editorial and engagement partners. For more information visit www.collaborativenh.org or email project manager Melanie Plenda at Melanie.Plenda@collaborativenh.org.