Black Media Product Strategy

Photo: Lagos Techie, via Unsplash

This 6-month, tuition-free, online program trains teams from Black-owned newsrooms to build product strategies for digital transformation and sustainability. The Black Media Product Strategy program is the result of a collaboration between J+ and the Black Media Initiative at the Center for Community Media, with a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Black media is a vital asset to the audiences they serve and a necessary part of the journalism ecosystem that can help improve the industry’s long-term prospects and introduce new ways of thinking about news. Black media leads the way in providing critical coverage, centering the community, and connecting us to the historical fight for justice.

When the Black Media Initiative conducted a series of exploratory interviews with Black publishers, it found that while Black media organizations are in different places with regard to financial sustainability, most publishers have concerns about the long-term financial viability of their enterprise. How might we help these newsrooms craft strategies to build sustainable revenue streams? How might we help them increase capacity,  retain talent, and better connect with other newsrooms for support?

We believe that product thinking can be the catalyst for growth. Participants in our previous product trainings reported a transformational impact as their newsrooms became more audience-centric, data-centric and collaborative. Many launched news products – newsletters, podcasts, special editions – that opened up new revenue streams from members or sponsors.  

The Black Media Product Strategy adopts our tested curriculum and our cohort-based training methods, which allow participants to learn from the best in the business from around the world while strengthening connections with peers. The program consists in two phases, 1) a series of bi-weekly online classes led by news product leaders covering every aspect of product development in a news context, and 2) a project phase where the participants will build a product prototype under the mentorship of a coach. 

The program will serve 10 newsrooms between April and October 2022.  Applications open January 17 and close February 17.

Cheryl Thompson-Morton

“Since its inception, Black media has been around to serve the needs of African-Americans. Product thinking is really about providing a methodology to be able to better understand the needs of the people we aim to serve, quickly adapt to a constantly changing environment and do it in a way that continues our organization’s sustainability and resiliency. Product thinking can be used to help hone in on coverage that attracts new audiences, attract advertisers and donors, launch a new audience revenue stream and is a skill that is needed now more than ever for Black media.”

Cheryl Thompson-Morton, Black Media Initiative Director


Each application would be filled by one person, but may list up to three people (all included) who can take the classes and will work on the project. Ideally, a lead editor or publisher will be applying for your newsroom. Applicants must have the support of their publisher.


Product teams & culture

Audience research

Equity in design

Design sprint

Revenue & sustainability


Case studies

Coaching sessions & Peer circles


This is a line graph of the program's timeline. The program dates for the application phase runs from Jan. 17 to Feb. 17, 2022. The training phase runs from April 1 and June 17, 2022. The coaching and project phase runs from June 17 until Oct. 6 2022.


Cierra Hinton headshot

Cierra Hinton

Executive Director-Publisher,

Hinton teaches
Team Work.

Bola Awoniyi headshot

Bola Awoniyi

Co-founder & COO,
Black Ballad

Awoniyi teaches
Case Study: Black Ballad.

dana amihere headshot

Dana Amihere

Independent designer, developer and data journalist

Amihere teaches
Equity in Design.

Candice Fortman

Candice Fortman

Executive Director,
Outlier Media

Fortman teaches
Understanding Audience.

Mariah Craddick headshot

Mariah Craddick

Senior Product Manager (Customer Journey),
The Atlantic

Craddick teaches

Isata Yansaneh

Isata Yansaneh

Brand and Design Strategist,
Acts of Light

Yansaneh teaches
Design Sprint.

Penda Howell headshot

Penda Howell

Chief Revenue Officer,

Howell teaches

Nu Goteh headshot

Nu Goteh

Co-Founder and Creative Director,
Deem Journal

Goteh teaches
Case Study: Deem Journal.

Eric Goodwin

Eric Goodwin

Product Manager for the News Experience team,

Goodwin teaches
Metrics for Success.


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Center for Community Media logo
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Contact Us

Have any questions about our program? Please contact us!

Cheryl Thompson-Morton

Cheryl Thompson-Morton
Black Media Initiative Director
(Twitter) @cthompsonmorton

Marie Gilot portrait photo

Marie Gilot
Executive Director of J+
Twitter — @louiegilot