Tell me a story.
A former McClatchy editor once said those are the four most powerful words in the English language.
Next Friday and Saturday, we're going to tell you some stories. Helping us tell them again are two fine journalists from the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting. You may remember these are the same folks who helped us produce our three-part series in late 2008, "Sowing Hope," about UC Merced's medical school.
I submitted that series for a Pulitzer Prize. I knew it wouldn't win -- not because it wasn't excellent work, but because it represented a new hybrid of journalism. I wanted to alert the Pulitzer judges that they were going to see more of this flashing on their radar.
As our industry faces its toughest financial times ever, more and more newspapers are partnering with outside outfits. These partnerships -- at least in our case with the center -- lead to what generals call a "force-multiplier." They bring added value to what we journalists at the Sun-Star are able to give you.
They make us better. Publisher Debbie Kuykendall understands this and backs our venture.
Some of you wondered whether doing this the first time around meant we'd have to compromise our integrity, to reflect a point of view of our partner.
Relax. First, I wouldn't let that happen. Second, we made no concessions to any ideology, nor will we. The California HealthCare Foundation is an Oakland-based nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation that funds research into health care issues and policies. It takes no position on those issues and policies. Check it out: www.chcf.org.
When it decided to reach a larger audience in 2008, it allied with USC's Annenberg School to form the center. Michael Parks, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times and now a USC professor, brought in a cadre of highly talented journalists to staff the center.
They've been deployed to newspapers across the state to be the force-multiplier and produce health care-related enterprise projects.
We were the first newspaper to sign up. After our "Sowing Hope" series appeared, several other newspapers saw it was good. They signed up. So far the center has worked with The Fresno Bee, Santa Cruz Sentinel, North County Times and the Redding Record Searchlight.
When the foundation saw the results, it decided last year to give more money -- almost $3.3 million -- to the center. The Sun-Star is one of the two newspapers that the center's journalists first came back to for another value-added round of stories.
The third reason you can rest easy that our collaboration isn't driven by any agenda is that we had to submit our proposed partnership to a five-editor McClatchy committee that vets all 30 McClatchy dailies' collaboration with any outside organizations. They and Vice President of Operations Frank Whittaker approved our second effort with the center.
Finally, the Sun-Star has now done this twice because I knew and trusted the main players. Pulitzer Prize-winner Parks was Beijing correspondent for The Baltimore Sun in the late '70s when we met in Tokyo. We later crossed paths several times in L.A.
Spencer Sherman, director of publishing and communications at the foundation, and his wife Janice Fuhrman were top-notch correspondents in Tokyo and Seoul when I was there, so we go back a few years.
An added bona fide is Richard Kipling. He came to the office with Parks before the first go-round. We discovered we both had grown up in Topeka. He went to Topeka West High School and remembered "The Teen Scene" column I'd authored for the Topeka Capital-Journal.