When we started the Product Initiative in 2020, I would have told you that although product teams vary wildly, what they don’t include is editorial.
I was wrong.
As our content becomes truly multimodal, it’s no longer just which medium is used to tell a story. It’s which format is right for the person and/or the delivery platform at any given time. This makes for a nuanced role which bridges the newsroom and product to ensure that the options for multimodal formats are in place, as well as the internal workflows to make it easy for newsroom teams to implement.
Welcome the role of the “storytelling product manager.” This role, as I have seen it, sits in product but has a dotted line to the newsroom. The role will become more necessary as technology enables even more formats for a single story, more end destinations, and more individual personalisation.
For most organisations I speak to, this is a PM role within the product organisation. Editorial and product are rarely combined at higher echelons and almost never within c suite roles.
That is aside from Kat Down Mulder, whose former role was chief product officer and managing editor at The Washington Post. The reason for this, she argued, is that it is impossible to decouple the content (editorial) from the content experience (product). You can see her deck explaining this at our World Congress in 2022.
Ultimately, what do people buy? You can have the best content in the world, but if you make it hard to access, you don’t have a business. The benchmark for consumers isn’t just other news organisations; it’s leaders such as Spotify and Netflix that set consumer expectations. It’s a convincing argument.
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