Self-Directed Courses

Product strategies for journalism: How to align editorial, audience, business and technology

Instructor(s):   Adriana Lacy
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This self-directed course features course content from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas massive open online course (MOOC) titled “Product strategies for journalism: How to align editorial, audience, business and technology .” The four-week course took place from August 23 - September 19, 2021.

This course was organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, in partnership with News Product Alliance, with support from Google News Initiative.


The course was taught by Adriana Lacy, an audience strategist and adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Southern California. She created and curated the content for the course, which includes video classes, readings, exercises, and more.

 The course materials are broken into four modules, along with an introductory module:

We encourage you to watch the videos, review the readings, and complete the exercises as time allows. The course materials build off each other, but the videos and readings also act as standalone resources that you can return to overtime.

We hope you enjoy the materials. If you have any questions, please contact us at journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu.

Meet the Instructor

AdrianaAdriana Lacy is a freelance journalist focused on audience engagement, social media platforms, and technology. She is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, where she teaches product management and metrics, audience engagement, and best practices on engaging diverse communities.

She previously worked as an audience engagement editor at Axios and the Los Angeles Times, and as an audience news assistant at The New York Times. She is currently a graduate student in the digital audience strategy program at Arizona State University. You can follow her on Twitter @adriana_lacy.

Course description


1. Welcome video

Watch Video   

2. Course syllabus



1. “The user needs for news, explained” [by Jacqueline Woudstra ]

2. “The ABCs of Product Management” [by Mary Tyler March and Jessica Morrison]

3. “What does The New York Times look for in coming up with a new product? These five things” [NiemanLab]

 Optional Resources

1. ‘There’s a huge demand’: Why product manager is the new pivotal role at publishers [by Max Willens]

2. Practical Guide to Product Management in Media [by MDIF]

What is a product? 

We'll differentiate project development from product development and show that the product mindset and agile principles can be used in everyday newsroom activities.

In this module, you will learn:
- What is and what is not a product
- Why product and project development requires a completely different work approach
- See the characteristics inherent to journalism that are fundamental in product development
- Product Mindset: You may already have it and don't even know it
- What are the agile principles and why, once you know it, you won't be able to live without it
- Hear from Brittany Hite, a project manager at the Los Angeles Times on how to bring your project from conception to completion

 Video Classes

1. Introduction to Product Management

Watch Video  Presentation  Transcript 

2. Strategic Outcomes

Watch Video  Presentation  Transcript 

3. Product vs. Project Management

Watch Video  Transcript 

4. Interview with Brittany Hite, a project manager at the Los Angeles Times

Watch Video  Transcript 


 Optional Resources

1. The rise of the Journalist Product Manager [By Marcelo Fontoura]

2. How product managers are rejuvenating journalism [WAN-IFRA]

From problem to solution – and never the other way around

We will trace the paths of product discovery: identify the people and problems of those who will use (and pay) for the product, build hypotheses and design the solution.

This module will cover:
- User space: define the persona and get to know it well through user research techniques
- Problem space: discover, understand and validate the problem we are going to solve
- Solution space: discover, understand and validate the solution we are going to propose to solve the problem
- Completing the lean canvas
- Hear from Nia Johnson, a product manager at Axios about her career path and life as a product manager

 Video Classes

1. Intro to product discovery and user personas

Watch Video  Transcript 

2. Persona Walkthrough

Watch Video  Transcript 

3. Interview with Nia Johnson - Product manager at Axios

Watch Video  Transcript 


 Optional Resources

1. Personas connect journalists with digital news consumers [Knight Digital Media Center ]

2. [Video]How To Create A User Persona [Career Foundry ]

3. Product Discovery A Practical Guide for Agile Teams [HPM]

Vision, strategy and product roadmap

We'll show you how to create a vision, strategy, and roadmap for your products, and we'll address the importance of communicating them inside and outside your organization.

This module will cover:
- What is the product vision and why defining it well is as important as communicating it properly
- Stakeholders buy in: the importance of aligning product and company strategies and conquering allies
- Exercising writing the product vision statement and filling out the product vision board
- What is the product strategy and how does it differ from the product vision
- The roadmap as a communication tool that shows where we are and where we want to go
- Prioritization techniques to contain the urge to do everything at once
- Hear from Genesia Ting, a user experience designer and former creative technologist at the Los Angeles Times

 Video Classes

1. Product vision and stakeholder buy-in

Watch Video  Transcript 

2. Product Roadmap

Watch Video  Transcript 

3. Interview with Genesia Ting — User Experience

Watch Video  Transcript 

4. Interview with Genesia Ting — Roadmapping

Watch Video  Transcript 


Construction and feedback

With the persona known, the problem and solution clearly delineated, and the vision defined, we'll show you how to deliver the right product from a prototyping mindset and short feedback loops.

This module will cover:
- The MVP
- The importance of focusing on delivering value in ‘small pieces’
- Build, deliver, measure, and improve: creating a constant feedback loop
- Experimentation examples

 Video Classes

1. The MVP

Watch VIdeo  Presentation  Transcript 

2. Product Feedback Loop

Watch Video  Presentation  Transcript 

3. Top 5 Takeaways

Watch Video  Transcript 

4. Live Session with Adriana Lacy

Watch Video 


1. How The New York Times assesses, tests, and prepares for the (un)expected news event [NiemanLab]

2. KPIs vs. OKRs: How They Compare and Why You Need Both to be Successful [Wrike]

3. How to build a metrics-savvy newsroom [American Press Institute: 4. Journalism driven by stakeholders: 9 good questions with Stakeholder Media Project’s Mark Lee Hunter [AmericanPress]