Product Management for Newsroom Leaders



Instructors: Becca Aaronson, Shannan Bowen, Emma Carew Grovum, and Cindy Royal

April 29 - May 26, 2019


Newsrooms today are facing unprecedented challenges; technology shifts as quickly as the wind, and we really need to start getting creative about how we keep journalism jobs.

Product Management for Newsroom Leaders is a four-week online course to learn how you can think like a product manager and cultivate solutions in your news organization. You will be trained on how to think more strategically and develop holistic solutions to tackle the biggest challenges in your newsroom.

The course is $95 and is designed for anyone in a newsroom from anywhere in the world who is interested in “product thinking.” You can pay the course fee here, but first you need to have an active account in our system. Follow the instructions below.





Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  • 1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  • 2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  • 3. Pay the $95 registration fee. Click here to pay. The payment must be made only by those who already have an account in the Journalism Courses system. The username and email you used in the system will be required when you complete payment.
  • 4. It may take up to 72 hours to enroll you in the course. You will receive an email confirming your registration, and granting you access to the introductory module of the course.

Please add the email addresses knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu and filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

In this course, you’ll learn how to bring product thinking skills to your newsroom. We’ll discuss tactics, processes and strategies for managing digital products and content in journalistic settings.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the role of product thinking in a newsroom
  • Apply product management processes to a news organization
  • Begin leading brainstorming sessions and developing product pitches
  • Understand goal-setting frameworks and how to develop a product roadmap
  • Build a strong case for your product strategy with audience data and research
  • Introduction Module: Course Introduction

    In the introductory module, you will get an overview of the course structure and meet the instructors.


    Module 1 - Product thinking in the newsroom with Becca Aaronson

    In the first module, you’ll hear from each of our instructors on how to apply your journalism skills to product thinking.

    This module will cover:

  • Why you don’t need to be a product manager to be a product thinker
  • How to think holistically about the audience, business, technology and editorial needs of your newsroom
  • 5 journalism skill sets that directly translate to product management

  • Module 2 - Ideation: The beginning stages of developing a product strategy with Emma Carew Grovum

    Most journalists have an opinion of how news products could be built better, they just need some help developing those opinions into smart, actionable ideas that work towards the organization’s goals. This week we’ll talk about where ideas come from, how to help an opinion or criticism evolve into an idea, and how to interrogate and challenge our ideas before they become product requests.

    This module will cover:

  • Where do ideas come from? How to kickstart your newsroom
  • Journalists are wonderfully skilled at identifying problems. As product leaders, how can we turn strongly-held opinions or criticisms into ideas we can act on? We’ll discuss exercises that you can use to help your newsroom generate actionable ideas.

  • Using empathy and interrogation to develop more successful ideas
  • As newsroom leaders, it’s our role to develop empathy among our teammates and with our audience. How can we elevate voices and ideas from historically under-presented folks on your team and in your readership? How can we challenge our assumptions to develop more successful product strategies?

  • How to transform a good idea into a product pitch
  • Now that you’re chock-full of great ideas, what do you do? We’ll discuss how to interrogate ideas in order to develop a comprehensive product strategy and package that strategy into a convincing pitch.

  • Product case study with Cindy Royal

  • Module 3 - Goal-setting and Prioritization: The tactics of developing and executing a product strategy with Becca Aaronson

    Whether you’re an engagement editor or a product manager, all newsroom leaders need to be able to set goals, prioritize tasks and balance short-term, urgent needs with their long-term mission and objectives. This week, we’ll dive deep into the frameworks and tools you can use to set goals, prioritize tasks and projects, and build a roadmap. We’ll also go beyond the tools to discuss how you can improve your communication to build trust — a necessary ingredient for institutional and cultural change.

    This module will cover:

  • Defining what success looks like
  • We’ll discuss how to use goal-setting frameworks to align your organization towards a clear vision of success. Specifically, look at how you can use goal-setting frameworks to align your team around a little shared vision and build trust with stakeholders.

  • Prioritization and difficult choices
  • The clearer you are about what success looks like, the easier it will be to make difficult decisions on what to prioritize. A clear vision of success also enables you to communicate — and negotiate — the work that needs to be done with your team and stakeholders. In this video, we’ll discuss frameworks for prioritizing tasks and balancing large-scope projects with the urgent needs of a newsroom. We’ll also discuss how to build prioritization into your daily processes and work culture.

  • Building your roadmap
  • Every team needs a roadmap: a clearly defined, yet flexible path to lead them to towards their goals. In this video, we’ll discuss different roadmap structures, tools you can use and how to incorporate a roadmap into your team’s process.

  • Product case study with Cindy Royal

  • Module 4 - Audience Data and Research: How to build a strong case with Shannan Bowen

    Building good products requires a solid understand of your customer’s needs. As journalists, you’re likely already analyzing data about what your audiences are reading or watching and how they’re interacting with your products. This week, we’ll go a step further and examine the role of data in creating an audience strategy for your products, testing theories and measuring results. We’ll also talk about types of audience research and how to blend qualitative and quantitative data to give you a holistic perspective.

    This module will cover:

  • Using data to guide decisions and measure results
  • You know your business goals and you’ve built a great roadmap to meet them. Now what? In this video, we’ll talk about the types of data you can analyze to set key performance indicators for your product strategies. We’ll also talk about how you can be holistic in data analysis, ensuring that you’re connecting the data about your readers’ behaviors to data from your revenue strategy, for example.

  • Getting to know your audiences and their needs
  • Your product’s analytics will only tell one side of the story. You’ll want to go deeper and understand the motivations behind the actions and habits of your audiences. In this video, we’ll discuss how you can use research, focus groups, personas and audience segments to develop plans and truly get to know your audiences.

  • Testing, measuring and iterating
  • We’ve discussed the importance of data in decision making and learning about audience behavior. Data analysis never really ends. We’ll discuss measuring and reporting out your KPIs and how to use data to point to your next iteration—or pivot—in your product strategy.

  • Product case study with Cindy Royal

  • Conclusion: How to take what you’ve learned back to your newsroom

    In the conclusion video, Becca Aaronson will discuss how to apply the concepts and practices discussed in this course to your newsroom.

    Becca Aaronson is the Director of Product at Chalkbeat, a non-profit, digital-first network of local newsrooms covering K-12 education in seven cities. At Chalkbeat, she oversees digital product development and visual storytelling. She manages a remote team of designers and developers, who collaborate closely with both the newsroom and revenue development teams to develop and implement digital product strategies. In 2018, Becca was selected for the Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Becca began her career at The Texas Tribune, where she was their first-ever product manager. She was responsible for creating and managing the Tribune’s product roadmap and ensuring that technology products aligned with audience and brand strategy. During her eight year tenure at the Tribune, she also co-founded the Tribune’s data visuals team, where she designed, built, and managed several award-winning investigative projects. Becca has a bachelor’s degree in cultural theory from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.


    Shannan Bowen is a product manager and audience strategist who is passionate about local news. She leads a product management team at McClatchy, where she works closely with the company's 30 newsrooms to identify strategies for digital storytelling and audience development. Shannan began her career as a local news reporter in North Carolina, working on everything from reporting on local government issues to data journalism to social media strategy. She then joined Atlantic57, the digital consultancy of The Atlantic, to lead content and engagement strategies for clients. Shannan also has held audience engagement and product strategy roles at The Hill and National Journal in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and has a Master's in Media Entrepreneurship from American University. Shannan lives with her family near Raleigh, N.C.


    Emma Carew Grovum is a multiplatform storyteller and product manager. She works at the intersection of storytelling, technology, and audience, most recently at The Daily Beast in New York. Emma was the product lead for The Beast’s bespoke content management system and oversees newsletters and membership products. Prior to joining the technology team, Emma worked in every corner of newsrooms large and small as a researcher, reporter, social media editor, homepage manager, and assistant managing editor. Emma was chosen for and completed both the Asian American Journalists Association’s Executive Leadership Program (2017) and Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media (2018).


    Cindy Royal is a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University where she leads the Digital Media Innovation program and is the director of the Media Innovation Lab. She teaches Web design, coding and digital media innovation courses. She completed Ph.D. studies at The University of Texas in 2005. Her research interests include understanding the role of programming and data in journalism and the integration of technology in education. Her students have gone on to digital media careers at The New York Times, Austin American-Statesman, Blackbaud, Spredfast, Homeaway, SXSW, Texas Tribune and more. In 2013, Royal was accepted to the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship program at Stanford University to work on CodeActually.com, a platform to teach journalists how to code. In 2013, she was named Teacher of the Year by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication/Scripps Howard and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching at Texas State. In 2018 & 2019, Royal received the Everette Swinney Faculty Senate Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2019 was the University's Minnie Stevens Piper Professor nominee. More information on her background and activities can be found at cindyroyal com.

    This course is designed for newsroom leaders at all levels who wants to learn how to develop their ideas into actionable strategies. Editors, data analysts, engagement and social media workers and newsroom product managers should enroll. Those already involved in product management functions are encouraged to join the course to add to the discussion and provide additional insight on the topic.

    This course only requires you to have access to an Internet connection and Web browser.

    First of all, note that this is an asynchronous course. That means there are no live events scheduled at specific times. You can log in to the course and complete activities throughout the week at your own pace, at the times and on the days that are most convenient for you.

    Despite its asynchronous nature, there are still structures in place for the duration of the course.

    The material is organized into four weekly modules. Each module will be taught by at least one of the instructors and will cover a different topic through videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you've gained through the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning a certificate of participation at the end of the course.

    This course is very flexible, and if you are behind with the materials, you have the entire length of the course to complete them. We do recommend you complete each of the following before the end of each week so you don’t fall behind:

  • Video lectures
  • Readings and handouts/exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums
  • Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings
  • A certificate of completion will be available for those who meet all of the course requirements. You will have until to complete the class criteria. After May 26, the Knight Center will review your record. After confirmation, of course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message with confirmation that you fulfilled the course requirements and you qualify for the certificate. In this message, we will also send you instructions to download a PDF copy of your certificate through the course platform. You will be able to then download your certificate before the course closes down. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

    In order for you to be eligible for the Certificate of Completion, you must:

    • Listen to the weekly video classes and read the weekly readings.
    • Complete weekly quizzes with a 70% minimum score. (You can retake the quizzes as many times needed. Only the highest score will be recorded.)
    • Create OR reply to at least one discussion forum each week

    At the end of the course, an online form will be made available for you to apply for a certificate. Once you have filled out the form and we have verified that you have met the course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message with instructions on how to make your payment. The verification process will take three to five business days.

    Please add the email addresses filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu and knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.




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