Product Challenge Partnerships
News Catalyst is a two-year, grant-funded project that provides tools, fosters collaboration, and promotes experimentation in service of building digitally sustainable news organizations. The project is based at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication.
We’re seeking to collaborate with partner news organizations on a product-focused challenge in your news organization.
Partnering with News Catalyst on a product problem means that we assist with identifying and solving a specific product roadblock or challenge within your organization.
We’re currently focused on two main areas of challenges:
News Catalyst is working on a suite of tools and templates to help news organizations develop product workflows that can be adapted for their specific needs. As part of that work, we’re seeking partners developing or improving their existing processes who can test aspects of the tool kit and partners with whom we can work to help address unique challenges that exist in their organizations.
News Catalyst partnered with WURD to support their efforts to design and test a print newsletter to connect with and better serve members, especially senior members who aren't active online. As part of the partnership, News Catalyst worked with the team from WURD to design a launch strategy for a postcard and the inaugural issue of WURD Press along with training for the use of Asana to manage the project work.
This kind of partnership has also taken the form of organizations reaching out with questions about how other newsrooms have tackled a specific issue. We’re currently working on two survey-research projects around workflows and processes that we will be taking back to our partners to inform their approach.
Tools and Technology
As part of our work to help organizations sustainably innovate, we’re working on resources to help news organizations better understand and make use of the tools and technologies required to accomplish their specific goals. We’re looking for partners seeking feedback and recommendations for their tool stack who are willing to test changes and measure effects on performance and partners who can review resources that we are developing.
News Catalyst has partnered with Montclair Local Nonprofit News to do a review of their technology stack and make recommendations for efficiencies in their workflow and process. Our recommendations helped eliminate redundancies in the process and reduced the time it took to publish. This partnership and future partnerships like this are informing resources News Catalyst is developing to help news organizations better understand and plan for their technology needs.
We’re looking for partners who embrace transparency in this collaboration. We want to be able to share insights and takeaways, what works and what’s difficult. It’s our goal to share replicable solutions to the larger field of journalism.
Our partnership comes at no cost to your organization. We may be able to make some resources available for costs that come up during the process and ask that our partners do the same.
Tell us about your challenge
If you’re interested in working with us to address a product challenge in your news organization, tell us more about what challenge you’re trying to solve. We’re looking to team up with news organizations on a rolling basis and will engage with projects as we have the bandwidth.
If there is a potential fit, we will schedule an informational call with you to learn more about your challenge. Following that call, we will evaluate whether the challenge fits with our mission and if the scope works for our current bandwidth. If the project is a good fit but there is a mismatch in capacity, we may ask if it’s possible to table the partnership until a later date.
If the project is a good fit for us and for you, we will schedule further conversations to establish the full scope of the challenge, outline the terms of the partnership, mutually decide on goals and deliverables and establish an MOU that guides the work.
Who are we and how can we help?
News Catalyst is a grant-funded project building the resources and capacity in news organizations to do focused product work with the goal of supporting newsroom sustainability. Our expertise spans editorial processes, collaboration, product management and technology.
Our team is made up of:
- Aron Pilhofer, Director
- Tyler Fisher, Deputy Director, Technology
- Jacqui Lough, Developer
- Heather Bryant, Deputy Director, Product
- Jessica Morrison, Product Lead
You can read more about us here: About News Catalyst
Who would you be working with?
Various members of the News Catalyst team may be involved at different points in the process as their expertise is relevant.
What do you mean by product challenge?
We define this pretty broadly because challenges manifest in numerous ways across newsroom contexts. Perhaps it’s the complete absence of a product development culture or process, maybe you’ve been doing product development work all along but you’ve never called it that and could be helped by connecting with more of the structures and workflow of a product development process. You are interested in an idea and need help organizing your team around it. You could be a completely new organization and want to build a product-driven culture from the get-go or a long-running newsroom that’s trying to adapt more nimbly. Talk to us about what you think is a challenge for you.
What does it cost?
The contributions of the team members from News Catalyst do not cost anything. We are a grant-funded project that is designed specifically for these kinds of partnerships.
We do ask that you have some level investment in this process, whether it’s committing to have people who are tasked to work on the partnership or contributing to costs that may arise during our partnership. For example, if we mutually agree that an additional consultant or technology component is needed. We’ll work with you to figure out how to cover such things and may be able to contribute as well.
How long are the partnerships?
It varies by the partnership. Most will likely fall in the few weeks to a few months range.
What types of things will be discussed or shared publicly?
The goal of transparency is to make available all the things we learn from addressing product challenges in a wide variety of newsrooms. This may be design concepts, metrics, open source technologies and approaches for organizing people and teams.
What if our challenge isn’t the right fit for a partnership?
If for some reason, we don’t have the capacity or fit to help with your specific challenge, we might still be able to provide assistance in the form of introductions or referrals to people or resources focused on relevant areas. We’re currently curating a directory of consultants who work in this space and have facilitated introductions and discussion groups to connect people working on similar problems.
Questions for us?
You are welcome to reach out with questions you have about this process. Email firstname.lastname@example.org