Journalistic organizations are continually experimenting with new ways to engage with their readers — crafting novel approaches to creating, curating and delivering content. According to a recent Shorenstein/Lenfest whitepaper, the ability to manage and build innovative “news products” is an integral part of the industry’s ability to attract and retain subscribers. News products are everything from the custom data visualizations we experience on an almost daily basis from major news organizations around the globe, to novel newsletters or podcasts; from cooking apps for your iPhone to advanced recommendation engines; all of which seek to enhance the relationship between outlet and user. By positioning a class on news products, we hope to not only teach new skills within the school, but also to bolster novel thinking from our students on the ways journalism is created, experienced and distributed.
In news organizations, the most inventive engagement techniques are being developed by cross-functional teams that cut across the outlet’s business and newsroom. To be effective working on news products requires a key set of skills — skills that typically reside in disciplines outside journalism. This course seeks to address that gap, introducing concepts to developing news products through the product development process. Over the course of a semester, students will engage with methods, practices (and experts) from journalism, design, engineering, entrepreneurship and business.
The News Products course will be broken into three core components: design, engineering, and business models. The course will largely be project-based, pairing students with similar interests to work on a news product over the course of a semester. In the first segment, students will learn the principles of product design and will rapidly test ideas by building interactive prototypes. Incorporating the latest approaches to “design thinking,” especially as they relate to strategies for developing content.