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Free Product Development Training for Journalists to Return in Early 2021

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Following the success of a two-month pilot program earlier this year, the J+ division of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and NewsCatalyst will once again offer online tuition-free product development training for journalists in small newsrooms, starting in January 2021. The program, Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms, will have renewed support from the Google News Initiative.

“We always knew that product thinking was the key to long-term digital transformation in news. With our pilot, we discovered that it is also an asset in a crisis, and our partners at the Google News Initiative agreed,” said J+ Director Marie Gilot.

The pilot training of 25 U.S. and international journalists helped participants launch news products around COVID-19, improve team communication while working remotely, and embrace an audience-first ethos. 

The new phase of the program will serve three consecutive cohorts of 25 journalists, one in the Americas, one in Europe/Africa/Middle East, and one in Asia Pacific. Instruction will be in English and cover the principles and methods of product development and product management in a news setting. Over the course of two months, each cohort will meet online weekly, follow a tested curriculum, and learn from talented, innovative leaders who will also serve as small-group coaches.

“We saw a lot of ah-ha moments among the [inaugural group of] students, especially when COVID started. It was such a tough time for newsrooms, we thought they would drop out of the training but they used it to help them in this emergency,” said Aron Pilhofer, director of NewsCatalyst and one of the designers of the program.

“COVID-19 isn’t the first or last crisis that the field of journalism will have to adapt to. It’s only the current one. What we learn now and the practices we develop will play a vital part of the continuation of journalism as a field of work,” said Marco Túlio Pires, Google News Lab Lead.

The training is designed for journalists and staff inside small to midsize news organizations who have little or no experience with product development and management. We encourage journalists from all backgrounds to apply. All that is required is an interest in taking a product approach to better serving the needs of audiences and finding new paths toward sustainability. 

Applications for the cohort covering North, Central and South America are open. The continued support from the Google News Initiative allows us to not charge tuition for this program but participants need to apply and be accepted. Please sign up here for an email alert when the applications open.