Last Thursday, Journalism + Design and the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY hosted “The Hunt for News Products of the Future,” an evening of conversation Aron Pilhofer, Interim Chief Digital Officer at The Guardian, Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Managing Editor for Mobile News at Buzzfeed, and Trei Brundrett, Chief Product Officer for Vox Media.
The discussion, moderated by Journalism + Design director Heather Chaplin, started with the basics — what exactly is a news product, and what does it have to do with journalism? — and evolved into a incisive and nuanced exploration of newsroom culture, user experience, and the “soul” of news apps.
“You guys are the future of the business,” Jeff Jarvis, the director of CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center, stood up to tell the panelists towards the end of the evening. “You are at the heart, to my mind, of the strategy of the future of news.”
More than 200 people showed up for what was originally billed as an “intimate conversation.” In case you weren’t one of them, here are some of our favorite moments:
Ishmael answered the question that, even in a room packed with industry professionals, nearly everyone admitted they didn’t actually know: what is a news product? Ishmael said,”What are all of the things that are not the story, that make the story possible?”
Creating good news products, the panel agreed, takes collaboration across newsroom and a focus on audiences — still controversial ideas, Ishmael noted. Brundrett explained how Vox Media has been able to avoid some of those stumbling blocks:
One thing everyone on the panel said was they were still struggling to figure out was monetization. Or, as Pilhofer put it, “How the hell are we going to make this work?” He described the moment he realized he didn’t understand anything about digital advertising, and how The Guardian is rethinking its revenue strategy:
For more, check out the full video from the event.