Ryan Y. Kellett is a senior newsroom leader and relentless adopter of new technologies.
As The Washington Post’s Senior Director of Audience, he guided The Post through the mobile/social era of the internet (and the Bezos sale), quadrupling online readership globally and massively expanding subscriptions as a core revenue stream. In his 11-year tenure, he led a significant expansion of The Post’s audience functions to include social, SEO, live journalism, newsletters, subscriber engagement, young audiences, and editorial analytics. He was an author of the proposal on comments/communities that would become The Coral Project. Along the way, he covered three U.S. presidential elections and contributed to high-profile projects like the police shootings database and opioid files. Ryan and his teams have won multiple Edward R. Murrow, WAN-IFRA, Webby, and yes, Online Journalism awards.
In 2021, Ryan joined Axios Media as VP of Audience overseeing organic growth. Ryan is also a proud 2021 graduate of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Executive Leadership Program.
He started his professional career at NPR as the first-ever social media intern. He graduated from Middlebury College, where he founded a microlocal blog and was blissfully unaware that he was committing acts of journalism from an early age.
Ryan’s vision for the future of digital journalism
We got work to do!
There are massive challenges facing journalism, and digital journalism specifically, at every turn: creating sustainable business models, filling in local news deserts, AI, news literacy for news-avoidant audiences, misinformation and disinformation, rollbacks in DEI, changing platforms for distribution, and so many more. The list can feel totally overwhelming.
Luckily, no individual needs to have all the answers or lead in every capacity.
My vision for us is to run toward these challenges together, rapidly identifying the tracks of work, massively expanding participation, and most critically, divvying up that work.
Our wider industry needs a roadmap that’s inclusive of the total landscape of challenges, not just definitions or carve-outs but also who’s already tackling what, so that we can build upon others instead of pretending we’re all starting from scratch. Of course, ONA itself cannot and should not do everything. However, ONA does have the capacity to aggregate challenges and solutions in a clear way that organizations and individual journalists can access and learn from.
Specifically, this may mean more “sharing” than the industry is used to: real data, numbers, successes, and yes, failures. It also probably means more partnerships and collectives. Don’t get me wrong – I respect competition as a driver of innovation, but I can’t imagine competition alone leading to answers at the scale of our most pressing problems.
The ONA I know is the rare organization that understands that change is the only constant, and that’s because digital journalism has never been one thing for very long. That is our superpower, and we should use it.