ONA Weekly #372: Building Bridges Between Business And Editorial

By on August 11, 2021

four people sitting on opposite sides of a wooden table, at a meeting

Building bridges between business and editorial

In any news organization, business and editorial have the same mission: a high-quality, sustainable journalism publication or product. Yet there can be cultural tensions between the two groups that keep the organization from successful collaboration. 

At ONA18, ProPublica’s Celeste LeCompte moderated a panel on Why It’s Critical for Your Business and Editorial Sides to Collaborate—and How to Do It Ethically and Effectively featuring Janine Warner, Amanda Barrett, Austin Smith and Anna Nirmala

Their best practices for bringing the two sides together: 

  • Acknowledge any tensions and humanize both sides. There can be a big pay gap between journalists and business folks, says Smith from Alley, and “it’s difficult to be empathetic for someone who you either suspect or know is making quadruple what you’re earning.” Acknowledge the skepticism that each side may have about the other. Humanize each other and focus on the mission and the audience and their needs. That means not talking about the audience as if they’re merely ad consumers, or talking as if the audience’s habits don’t matter at all. 
  • Hold office hours where both editorial and business can come with their questions. This can help signal that leaders are serious about collaboration and will take their own time and listen carefully to both sides. 
  • Use the MOCHA framework to assign responsibilities. If the different stakeholders have clearly defined roles and are responsible for commenting on other parts of the project, there can be a greater sense of ownership and collaboration, as opposed to everyone only focusing on their particular role. 
  • Look for things the editorial team is excited about that has the potential to be extended to benefit the business. One stereotype is that the business side has ideas that editorial doesn’t want to implement, but it doesn’t have to be that way. LeCompte pointed out the example of the ProPublica Data Store, an initiative conceived and run by editors that—with the help of the business side—now makes $100,000 a year. 

We’re always on the lookout for helpful resources and tips. If you have other examples to share, please reply directly to this email.

Join the Boston Globe in urging readers to get vaccinated 

Next Wednesday, Aug. 18, the Boston Globe will run a special front-page section debunking myths about vaccinations. The section will feature stories, charts and resources on how to have constructive conversations about vaccination. 

The Globe will also publish an editorial about vaccine hesitancy in their community—and they’re calling on other publications to write and publish their own editorials on Aug. 18. The hope is that publishing on the same day can send the powerful message that civic journalism can help solve this public health crisis.

Learn more about (and participate in) the Boston Globe’s Vaccination Project. 


Fathm’s Newsroom Labs—Apply Now 

Fathm Labs are a hands-on opportunity to design creative and practical strategies for your organization to address challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. Apply now for our AI Strategy and Revenue Development Labs or register your interest in upcoming Labs.

Staff news: Many thanks and farewell to Jennifer Mizgata 

It’s bittersweet to share with the ONA community that Jennifer Mizgata‘s last day as Director of Programs will be Friday, Aug. 13. We can’t say enough about Jennifer’s impact on ONA. During her 10-year tenure, she has either led or significantly contributed to nearly every ONA program, past and present, including the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, ONA Local and the MJ Bear Fellowship. The dedication and thoughtfulness she has invested in our programs (and beyond) have changed people’s careers in tangible ways and influenced culture change in the journalism industry.

We’re grateful and proud to have worked alongside Jennifer over the past 10 years, and we are sure to continue seeing the ripple effects of her contributions well beyond her departure. You can find Jennifer on Twitter @JMizgata— please join us in thanks and applause!

Jennifer will continue pursuing her MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and MA in Design Leadership from Maryland Institute College of Art, while writing Work Space, an advice column for Fortune. She’ll be available to consult on business and design strategy work, as well as leadership training and coaching.  

Stat of the week

An analysis from NewsGuard and Comscore suggests that companies spend $2.6 billion each year buying programmatic advertising on misinformation and disinformation websites. This ad money supports false health claims, election misinformation, anti-vaccine information and more. The report highlights a newer area of scrutiny when it comes to misinformation. Until now, most of the effort in fighting misinformation has focused on editorial content (see our COVID-19 misinformation playbook).

Important dates

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

On our radar

The radar is now open for suggestions. Have you written or read a piece lately that would benefit others in journalism? We’re interested in sharing insights on trends, how-to guides, lessons from a project and other inspiration for innovation in digital journalism.

P.S. from ONA

Executive Director Irving Washington will facilitate a session on “Replacing Objectivity with Actual Values” at SRCCON. Tune in Thursday, Aug. 12, at 4 p.m. EDT (8:00 UTC).

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash
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