A primer to INMA’s new Product Initiative

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


The fundamental question the INMA Product Initiative aims to answer over the course of 2021 is: What do news organisations need to do to create, deliver, and innovate the best possible products for their audience(s)?  

Who is this initiative for?

The Product Initiative is for anyone in a news organisation whose success depends on the decisions made by product managers.

Product directly touches many parts of an organisation but mainly works across editorial, technology, design and user experience, data, marketing, and revenue.

INMA rolled out its Product Initiative this week.
INMA rolled out its Product Initiative this week.

Consequently, those who may be interested in following and taking part in the Product Initiative include product managers, strategists, marketeers, data analysts, revenue specialists, editors, and even CEOs. (You may have heard the joke that product managers want to be vice presidents, vice presidents want to be CEOs, and CEOs want to be product managers.)

What are some of the topics we’ll be covering?

Among the topics INMA aims to cover in the Product Initiative, some driven by a recent INMA survey, are:

  • Product methods and team structure: Who makes the decisions: editors, product people, or both? A review of working models, teams, structures, and shifting company cultures.

  • Setting strategies, priorities and goals: Working across so much of the business, creating and communicating plans to keep everything on track is essential. 

  • Measurement and KPIs to evaluate products and services: Product has introduced a metric-driven approach that can be at odds with the gut-feel culture of the newsroom. What are the classic product development metrics used by product management, and how can they support the rest of the organisation?  

  • Prototyping and experimentation to innovate and create new products: Expert tips for experiments, prototypes, and testing to ensure product/market fit with the audience. 

  • Working with stakeholders: With so many stakeholders that have different needs, how can you build a compelling case for product innovation?

  • Case studies looking at approaches for popular product initiatives such as introducing and growing subscribers, launching new products, and visualising content. 

  • How can established news companies ensure consistent product innovation? 

How to engage

This is going to be an exciting time uncovering the choices media organisations are making, the paths people have taken, and some of the inevitable hiccups that experience can help others avoid as companies progress on the journey of creating world-class products. 

I hope you’ll get involved.

As an INMA member, you can take part in the Slack Channel, Webinar meet-ups, and maybe even share your own product story. For a biweekly digest (like the one you’re reading now), sign up to receive the Product Initiative newsletter.

Further information can be found here, and you can contact me directly at jodie.hopperton@inma.org

Save the date: Thursday, January 28, 2021

The inaugural Product Initiative Meet-Up (think Webinar but a bit more intimate) will be on Thursday, January 28, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. New York time. We’ll be kicking off the first meet-up with a high-level look at differing team structures and the principles behind their decision process.

We will discuss who gets to prioritise the product road map. Is it by title, by department, by user focus, or bang for buck demonstrable results in the short term? I will talk with product executives from Ringier Axel Springer Polska, Gannett, and Cox Media Group.

INMA members can register here, or if you have a story to share, please contact me at jodie.hopperton@inma.org.

Recommended reading

Here are a few articles I have enjoyed recently:

  • The shared product mindset: Is agile development enough? Spoiler: Marcel Semmler thinks not. But he goes on to talk about why the “shared product mindset” is essential for news organisations.  
  • Content is product and product is content: Why deeper alignment is the only way forward: Dmitry Shishkin shares this: “... For media publishers, this is the time to start treating content and product as one. You’ll do it by achieving a singularity of purpose within your organisation, by constantly adapting and iterating the offer you provide, and finally, by being jointly prepared for the next big disruption, which is definitely round the corner.”
  • Why is speed good? Tensions in newsroom product development: Nick Petrie asks: What is the value of speed then? I think for modern newsrooms trying to create the best possible product experiences, what we are actually interested in is learning quickly and making better decisions.

I look forward to sharing and learning with you.

About Jodie Hopperton

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