Covering a story like never before: what 56 newspapers in 45 countries can teach brands about the art of collaboration and cooperation

Guardian_Copenhagen_front-cover
so the long and winding road of global climate change discussion and debate has brought us to 7th December 2009, and the Copenhagen Climate Summit.  the world's eyes and ears will converge on the gathering as political leaders meet to debate and, with luck, agree the principles of the collective action required to save us from ourselves.  an army of bloggers, Twitterers and reporters will all be there to capture – for us and for future generations – how it all went down.

the unprecedented media coverage that is no doubt to come is preceded today by a global media first orchestrated by the Guardian in London.  56 major newspapers in 45 countries have today published an identical editorial piece.  appearing in twenty different languages, the piece takes a single united message – the demanding of action – to a global audience.  Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger noted that "Newspapers have never done anything like this before – but they have never had to cover a story like this before"

Guardian_Copenhagen_newspapers

collaboration on this scale is unprecedented, and difficult.  as the Guardian puts it; "Given that newspapers are inherently rivalrous, proud and disputatious, viewing the world through very different national and political prisms, the prospect of getting a sizeable cross-section of them to sign up to a single text on such a momentous and divisive issue seemed like a long shot"  …but the long shot paid off and – with the very notable exceptions of the US and Australia aside – a united editorial piece is reaching a global audience, and its a good and powerful thing to see.

its a testament to what can be achieved when editors and publishers want to cooperate, made all the more potent at a time when much is being said about the waning power of the fourth estate.  and it begs a big question for brands…  where's the co-operation?  campaign after campaign has been rolled out to the world demonstrating commitment to reduce this or eliminate that – all inherently communicating on brands' terms rather than on the terms of the agenda against which they are developing comms…

the climate change agenda is bigger than any single brand, and some hard-fought co-opertaion could be just the thing to bring some increasingly needed credibility and scale to their – well intentioned – efforts.  and if the "rivalous, proud and disputatious" printing presses of the world can do it, then perhaps a group of enlightened, forward-thinking and pioneering brands can too.  its something I'd like very much to see.

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