News Products – A New Course Offering at CJS

For Spring 2020, the Brown Institute is excited to announce a new course on News Products which will be open to all MS, MA, and Dual-Degree students! The course will be led by Julia Beizer, Chief Product Officer at Bloomberg and Dalit Shalom, Senior Product Designer at NYT and is a mix of lecture and lab. Throughout the course, students will learn how to ideate, design, prototype, and pitch a News Product and the Brown Institute will be providing support to the winning team to further their prototype following graduation.

Journalistic organizations are continually experimenting with new ways to engage with their audiences — crafting novel approaches to creating, curating and delivering content. According to a recent Shorenstein/Lenfest whitepaper, the ability to manage and build innovative “news products” is an integral part of the industry’s ability to attract and retain subscribers. News products are everything from the custom data visualizations we experience on an almost daily basis from major news organizations around the globe, to novel newsletters or podcasts; from cooking apps for your iPhone to advanced recommendation engines; all of which seek to enhance the relationship between outlet and reader. By launching a class on news products, we hope to not only teach new skills within the school, but also bolster novel thinking from students on the ways journalism is created, experienced and distributed.

In news organizations, the most inventive engagement techniques are being developed by cross-functional teams that cut across the outlet’s business and newsroom. To be effective working on news products requires a key set of skills — skills that typically reside in disciplines outside journalism. This course seeks to address that gap, introducing concepts to developing news products through the product development process. Over the course of a semester, students will engage with methods, practices (and experts) from journalism, design, engineering, entrepreneurship and business.

The course will largely be project-based, pairing students with similar interests to work on a news product over the course of a semester. Over the course of a semester, students will work in groups to produce workable prototypes of novel news products. In the final class, groups will pitch their products to a panel of editors, journalists, product managers, and VC’s, and the winning team will be awarded a seed fund by the Brown Institute to pursue their product idea for the summer.

Results and learnings from the course will be posted on the Brown Institute blog.