Design Thinking | Events

AP Puts Experiments on View at Matter’s Demo Day

Corey Ford, Matter’s Managing Director. Photo: Allie Griffin

It’s not often that members of legacy news organizations have the chance to step away from the daily churn to reflect on what they do and imagine new ways to do it.

But the Associated Press recently had the chance to do just that.

As part of a five-month training program hosted by Matter, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm, members of the AP had a crash course in design thinking processes and a chance to do some hands-on experimentation with new ways to deliver the news.

Matter’s founder, Corey Ford, believes design thinking and experimentation can “change media for good.”

Launched in 2012, Matter provides capital investment and a five-month training program for entrepreneurs who are building early-stage media platforms. It also provides training and design techniques to its partners, including established media companies like the Associated Press.

The culmination of the program occurs on a “Demo Day,” when Matter cohorts pitch their startup to a room full of investors, media executives and others who will help them when they launch.

Matter’s 2018 class of entrepreneurs presented their pitches on June 12. On June 13, Journalism + Design hosted Matter’s “Parallel Demo Day,” where two teams from the Associated Press showed off what they had developed with Matter’s guidance.

By quickly creating several prototypes, AP journalists were able to test their ideas and get feedback more quickly. While the AP serves a business-to-business market, supplying content to news outlets around the world, Matter’s human-centered approach inspired the AP teams to think about the end consumers of their prospective new offerings from the get-go.

The first team, led by the AP’s Global Business Editor, Brad Foss, presented their experiment in small business news. Jon Fahey, the Health and Science editor at the AP, presented his team’s experiments with integrating augmented reality (AR) into their content.

Jim Kennedy, senior vice president of strategic planning at the AP, admitted he was originally skeptical of Matter’s parallel training program for media partners like the Associated Press. However, upon seeing the program in action, he told the audience that he thinks of Matter as one of the AP’s “superpowers.”

“The AP is big machine that cranks everyday,” Kennedy said to the gathering. “And for these guys to step away from the crank and to think differently and to build something from the bottom up is a real testament to what this whole thing is about.”