Community for News Product Professionals Launches

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More than 30 journalists have come together to establish the News Product Alliance (NPA), which aims to build a community of support and practice for news product professionals. The organization launched in September and intends to formalize at the beginning of 2021.

According to Becca Aaronson, president of NPA’s interim steering committee, product strategy is an emerging field in news and a different experience compared to other industries. Not only do news organizations need to consider the consumer needs, business objectives and technology strategy, but also need to consider their editorial mission—which can often be difficult to balance.

“We’re trying to take the tools and the frameworks that other industries have developed to come up with cross functional strategies—add in the editorial mission and journalistic integrity—and figure out how to make sustainable news organizations,” Aaronson said.

However, every publisher has different needs and resources, she explained, which is why NPA’s community can help find the industry learn faster by working together.

NPA formed following the International Symposium on Online Journalism Conference in 2019 after a small group of product leaders and educators met to discuss the future of product management in different kinds of newsrooms. It is currently led by a steering committee that includes Aaronson and 13 other professionals that serve in organizations like Gannett, McClatchy and the Google News Lab.

Through a survey, NPA’s committee is currently looking at audience research and conversation to get a better gauge on what the organization will do. At press time, Dr. Cindy Royal, a professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University, is leading the organization’s audience research and more than 300 people had already responded to the survey.

 Although still being analyzed, the survey has already given NPA a general idea of what they will prioritize. People want practical skill training and a place to talk to others about the cultural change and other labor that they’re doing at news organizations in an unknown space.

 While the target audience for NPA are individuals who are already doing product strategy work within their organization, anyone can join, Aaronson said. NPA is currently working on a membership model, and they are considering a pay-what-you-can model and a scholarship tier.

“Our goal is to create an international community,” she said. “So that means making sure that (NPA) is accessible to people no matter what their income level is and in many countries what journalist get paid can vary greatly.”

It seems as though the media industry is already interested in a resource like NPA. Aaronson said that after the organization launched, many publishers reached out to inquire about partnerships and other ways of working with NPA.

The interest is no surprise to Aaronson. As she told E&P, many news organizations “are figuring out how they can continue to produce quality journalism while still existing.” She hopes NPA can help create sustainable news organizations.

“Our mission is to elevate the discipline of product within news and by supporting individuals who are doing strategy and product work help accelerate the digital transformation of news organizations,” Aaronson said.

For more information, visit newsproduct.org.

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