How We Turned Nonprofit News Leaders Into Budding Product Managers at #INNProduct

Last week we hosted #INNProduct, a workshop in Chicago for about 20 newsroom leaders from INN and LION member organizations.

The goal was to help them become more effective at managing technology at their organizations while also providing an introduction to design thinking and product management.

That's a lot to cover in two days, but fortunately we had a number of great speakers and mentors to help. Here's a rundown of the sessions and some resources speakers have shared for folks who weren't able to join us.

Congratulations, you’re a product manager! 

Rebekah Monson of WhereBy.Us introduced everyone to product management, helping them think not just about telling great stories but also how to distribute those stories, who they want to reach, what impact they want to have and, above all, how to turn that into a business. Congratulations, you’re a product manager! View her presentation.

Planning and budgeting for tech projects 

Amanda Krauss, now an independent consultant but most recently of the Texas Tribune, and Adam Schweigert of INN talked about planning and budgeting for tech projects, sharing lessons we've learned over our years of managing projects and tools and techniques to eliminate the guesswork, including INN's project definition template and our process documentation.

Beyond pageviews: Getting the most out of analytics and impact tracking 

Lauren Fuhrmann of Wisconsin Watch and Ryan Sholin of Chalkbeat presented an overview of the latest best practices around measurement and impact tracking. View their presentation.

10 Ways to Recruit & Manage Talent Without An HR Department

To kick off day two, Andrew Ramsammy of UnitedPublic Strategies shared tips for recruiting and managing talent at small organizations including how to build a world-class team that is as diverse and inclusive as the audiences and communities you serve. View his presentation.

Planning and executing successful data projects

Julia Smith of INN and Fernando Diaz of Reveal/CIR talked about how to plan and budget for data and editorial projects, work effectively with news technologists and create impactful stories that drive change. View their presentation.

User-centered design on a shoestring

To close out the event, Kyle Ellis of the Society for News Design talked about how to bring design thinking into your organization without breaking the bank and then led a workshop to introduce everyone the design thinking process. View his presentation.

Thanks so much to everyone who came and a special thanks to the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the Society for News Design, Columbia College Chicago and LION Publishers for their support of the event!

We hope to repeat this workshop next year and we'd love to have you. Sign up for our newsletter to find out about future events we put on!

Nerd Alert 89: A subject-line joke

A subject walks into a bar and orders a pint. The bartender replies, "This isn't an email!"


What we're pondering this week

  Adam: For the 52 days we have remaining until election day, a timely guide to talking politics at work (or, say, in life) without alienating people. Hint: be respectful and focus on common ground.

  Ben: “Building better tech cultures for people with ADHD” seems to be broadly applicable to building better tech cultures in general. Take a read, and think about your office.

  Gabe: Ethnicity is complicated and the UX for defining it tends to be simplistic. How can better design reflect the complexities of ethnicity? (Hint: Checkboxes, not radio buttons)

  Jack: A Gallup survey released this week paints an alarming picture of decline in Americans’ trust in mass media. Which begs a question: In the digital age is there any such thing?

  Julia: This analysis of the most popular colors on the internet reminded me of another fun little game: Name That Blue. It’s surprisingly easy to do.

  RC: Baffle.js is a neat little visual library for obfuscating text in the browser.

  Inndy: I’m considering taking up ballet.


The happening things

Tonight, September 16: The INN@ONA Happy Hour6 p.m. Mountain Time at the Denver Press Club.

September 28-29 - There's still time to register for INN's two-day event for news leaders! We'll be discussing everything you need to know about managing technology and product design in your news organization. Travel stipends for INN members are available and we've added some new speakers and mentors. Hope to see you there!


Work we admire by our journalism peers

A screenshot of the "View Forms" interface of Ask, the new tool by the Coral Project

The Coral Project will launch their new community-engagement tool Ask on Monday, and unveiled the Comments Lab on Thursday.

A shoutout to NPR for publishing the things they’ve learned about Facebook Live.

Congrats to All the Online Journalism Awards 2016 finalists.


We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


Doing the good work

INN is hiring a program director and an operations manager.

The Marshall Project is hiring an editorial designer in New York, NY.

The Northwestern University Knight Lab and the Washington Post are looking for two software developers interested in journalism for their Knight/Post scholarship program.

MuckRock is accepting applicants for their newly-announced Thiel Fellowship.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter had 29 job openings this week. Check it out and sign up here if you'd like to get that in your inbox every week. Receiving two newsletters from INN is twice as good as one!


Help us make a thing

Want to help us build the next release of Largo? Here’s a list of outstanding issues before we ship the next milestone.


It's what's for dinner

LISTEN: I want my tears back ?

WATCH: Evolution in action ?

DRINK: A strawberry-basil milkshake

COOK: Savory Mooncakes

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

A couple dance on a cloud, backlit by the full moon.

Nerd Alert 87: Last-Minute Labor Day Newsletter


You'll be grilling hot dogs on Labor Day, right?

  Adam: In a world filled with looming deadlines, over-filled inboxes, always-on chat and incessant push notifications, a reminder that very little of what we do in the tech industry is truly urgent.

  Ben: Brian Boyer's quote about the similarities between programming and cooking in this transcript is worth a read. Keep an eye out for the full interview, publishing next summer.

  Gabe: Our understandings about gender and sexuality are increasingly become more nuanced. How should journalism reflect that? CJR has a thoughtful thinkpiece about preferred pronouns, outing ethics, and inappropriate interview questions.

  Jack: The Dropbox hack was the real deal, and sorry to be using the Dad Voice but it’s time to get serious about password management. Here are some great free options.

  Julia: Gotta love how “Pantsuit” is the name for the UI pattern library behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

  RC: Ideas and Insights from the Data Team at Automattic is a new blog that gives insight into the data challenges of running’s massive multisite installation.

  Inndy: Un robot qui cuit des muffins.



C'mon over!

Our guest this week is Alexandra Millatmal (@halfghaninNE), coding instructor at Omaha Code School.

In both my personal and professional realms, I spend a great deal of time thinking about race, representation and marginalization, and how I can make my local tech community more welcoming and inclusive.

One way we try to address this at Omaha Code School is by structuring a conversation about the state of the tech industry (and our roles in it as individual developers) into our beginning coding curriculum. Our goal is to make a space for uncomfortable truths and disagreement in that conversation – much like what I see in the "Under Our Skin" project from the Seattle Times.

A particular piece of the project that I enjoy is its commenting feature, which prompts users to select an option describing how the video made them feel and then frame their comment around that feeling. I find a lot of value in thinking about how we can better structure our conversations on race and identity in the United States, and I would love to know if the team found that this approach had an impact on the quality and tone of the comments they received.

Want to be a guest contributor for a future edition of this newsletter? Learn how and shoot us an email at if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you!


The happening things

September 14 - Join us at 1 ET for our monthly News Nerd Book Club discussion. This month we'll be reading Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green.

September 23 - The deadline for submitting talk proposals to the 2017 CAR Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

September 28-29 - INN is hosting a two-day event for news leaders to discuss everything you need to know about managing technology and product design in your news organization. Travel stipends for INN members are available and we just added some new speakers/mentors. Hope to see you there!

October 14 - The deadline for applications to the Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship at Cambridge.


Work we admire by our journalism peers

An illustration of a cop pulling his pistol out of its holster, with the text: Unholstered: When Texas Police Pull the Trigger - a project by the Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune launched Unholstered, a database of police shootings in Texas. Check outtheir summary of the data, the problems with the data, or download the data to run your own analysis.

NPR's Visuals Team announced version 1.0.0 of Pym.js this week, bringing better support for responsive iframes in a number of Content Management Systems, and introducing a canonical CDN for the script.



Good jobs with good people, doing good work

INN is hiring a program director and an operations manager. is hiring a junior full-stack software developer.

Mississippi Today seeks a database editor.

And Mother Jones is hiring a designer for print and digital work.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter had 29 JOB OPENINGS this week. Check it out and sign up here if you'd like to get that in your inbox every week. We'll pretend to not be jealous.


Kick back and relax

LISTEN: Telsa Coil Music presents The Cars ?⚡️?

WATCH: Super Mario World in 81,032 Dominoes. Mesmerizing.

EAT: The best way to grill your Labor Day hot dog.

DRINK: Labor Day marks the end of summer, but it also honors the American labor movement. How about a beer made by organized labor?

It's not a delay of game if the umpire is dancing, too

A looping gif of a segment of a Japanese baseball game. The pitcher, the batter, and the umpire appear to be dancing, because of how the gif loops.

Two Days In Chicago To Improve Your Tech + Product Management Skills

We're pleased to announce a special two-day gathering in Chicago, September 28-29 where we'll be assembling some great speakers from INN member organizations and beyond to help news leaders better understand how to manage technology and product design in your organization.

The workshop will take place on the campus of Columbia College in Chicago and will be geared toward executive directors and editors, along with news technologists, with the goal of raising tech literacy of leaders at nonprofit and independent news organizations.

The workshop takes place on the two days before the LION Publishers Conference on the same campus to help members save travel costs.

The event is FREE for INN members and we are  pleased to extend registration at a discounted rate to LION member organizations.

Thanks to the generous support of the Mozilla Foundation, travel reimbursements also are available for INN members to attend the training. (Please apply here for travel funds.)

Register here.


These are our confirmed sessions and speakers as of this writing but this is subject to slight change as the event draws closer. All times are CT.

Wednesday, Sept. 28

10 - 10:30 am -  Welcome and introductions. Sue Cross and Adam Schweigert, INN

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. -  Congratulations, you’re a product manager! Journalists love telling great stories and they’ve developed the skills and experience to do it well. But now you have to (also) think about how to distribute those stories, who you want to reach, what impact you want to have and, above all, how to turn that into a business. Congratulations, you’re a product manager! Speaker: Rebekah Monson, WhereBy.Us

11:30 - 12:15 p.m. - Planning and budgeting for tech projects. Tools and techniques to eliminate the guesswork. Speakers: Amanda Krauss, independent consultant and Adam Schweigert, INN

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. - Lunch (provided) + Lightning talks from attendees and mentors. Prepare a five minute talk and share something you’re passionate and excited about. There’s no requirement for these to be tech related; could be about projects at your organization, side projects or other interests you have to share.

1:45 - 2:30 p.m. - Beyond pageviews: Getting the most out of analytics and impact tracking. An overview of the latest best practices around measurement and impact tracking. Speakers: Lauren Fuhrmann, Wisconsin Watch and Ryan Sholin, Chalkbeat

3 - 4 p.m. - Mentor meetings. Break into small groups and meet with mentors to discuss issues and solutions.

4 - 5 p.m. - Happy hour

Thursday, Sept. 29

10:00 - 10:45 a.m. - Recruiting and managing technical staff. Building and managing a diverse and inclusive workforce plus some general best practices for recruiting, hiring, managing and retaining tech/design talent. Speaker: TBD

11  - 11:45 a.m. - Planning and executing successful data projects. How to plan and budget for data and editorial projects, work effectively with news technologists and create impactful stories that drive change. Speakers: Julia Smith, INN and Fernando Diaz, Reveal/CIR

12 - 12:45 a.m. - User-centered design on a shoestring. How to bring design thinking into your organization without breaking the bank. Speaker: Kyle Ellis, SND

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. - Lunch (provided). More time to meet one-on-one or in small groups with mentors discuss challenges/solutions.

2:30 - 5:00 p.m. - From theory to practice. Split into groups, work through the design thinking process to propose solutions to a design challenge and share your work with the full group.

5:30 p.m. - LION opening reception. All attendees of the INN tech conference are invited to attend the LION opening reception at Film Row Cinema, 8th floor, 1104 S. Wabash, just off South Michigan Avenue in the South Loop. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the bar opens at 5:30.


Rebekah Monson is co-founder and VP of Product of WhereBy.Us, a local media startup that connects people to their cities through storytelling and experiences. Its first publication, The New Tropic, produces an email newsletter, original journalism and events in Miami that reached more than half a million curious locals in 2015. WhereBy.Us achieved profitability in its first year of operation and will scale to new markets in 2016.

Kyle Ellis is a visual journalist turned product owner with a penchant for producing collaborative innovation events for media and civic technology communities. Energized by blue-sky ideation and fulfilled by collaborative execution, Kyle believes that data-driven decision making, a deep understanding of audience needs, and a strong sense of business goals are key to launching products that win. He currently works for American City Business Journals and the Society for News Design.

Fernando Diaz is a senior editor for Reveal, overseeing coverage of labor and privacy and surveillance. He has spent most of his career in Chicago, working at newspapers, magazines and websites, including as managing editor of Hoy, a Spanish-language daily newspaper. He has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Chicago Headline Club and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and The Society for News Design. Diaz is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Lauren Fuhrmann is associate director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Fuhrmann joined the Center in 2011 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. At the Center, Fuhrmann leads revenue development efforts as well as public engagement initiatives, including events, social media, newsletter and promotional materials; tracks the distribution and assesses the impact of WCIJ’s news stories; assists with development of donors and writing of grant reports; handles bookkeeping duties; produces photos, audio and video content; and copyedits stories. Fuhrmann is vice president of the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She was among five young leaders in the inaugural group of “Future Headliners” honored in 2014 by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Amanda Krauss is an independent digital consultant who specializes in user-centered strategy and smart product decisions. Previously, she was the Director of Technology for the Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, all-digital news source for Texans. She also worked with the Tribune as an interactive producer, and before that, she developed custom websites, wireframes, and prototypes on WordPress and other platforms. Previously, Amanda was a university researcher and instructor, which gave her a strong foundation in user experience, information architecture, and public speaking. She holds degrees in Classical Studies from the University of Michigan and the University of Texas, and has also co-translated an Aristophanes play, Women in Congress, which was performed at UCLA in 2013.

Ryan Sholin is the Director of Product & Growth at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering equity issues in education. A former investigative reporter for the Oakland Tribune, online editor for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, trainer and strategist at GateHouse Media, and Product Manager at Gannett, Ryan was also a co-founder of Wired Journalists and a Knight News Challenge winner for ReportingOn.

Adam Schweigert is Senior Director of Product and Technology at INN, leading all of its technology-related efforts, including developing publishing tools, managing content syndication and measuring the impact of members’ journalism.
Julia Smith is the design lead on INN's product and technology team, working on a mix of internal projects (like Largo, our open source WordPress framework/platform for news sites), creating design standards and style guides to help guide our work and helping out INN's 110+ nonprofit members and our consulting clients.

Hope to see you in Chicago!