Nadya Tan: Break down silos to create new models for local news

The Constellation News Leadership Initiative is a career development fellowship to support mid-career media professionals of color. As the inaugural Constellation class completed its fellowship this spring, we asked each fellow to write an essay reflecting on their experience by answering the following questions: Based on what you have learned and seen in journalism, how do you think the field will evolve in the future? What role do you want to play in that transformation?

I’ve had the unique opportunity to grow my career while remaining employed at the same journalistic institution through several ownership changes. I’ve been able to expand my skills and knowledge in publishing, technology, and now product management. That experience — as well as lessons learned from peers in the industry — has taught me that we must continue to break down silos, eliminate bad habits, and get out of our comfort zones in order to create new models for local news. 

There’s so much creativity and collaboration possible by bringing together designers and engineers, who don’t necessarily have newsroom experience, and reporters, editors, photographers, and graphic artists, who have made journalism their life’s mission. The combination of these skills and backgrounds increase the chances of transforming both news coverage and how the journalism is delivered to audiences.. But this doesn’t happen without a little chaos, which is why a conceptual air traffic control role, like product management, is your ally.

We’re seeing more product thinking and interactive storytelling that showcases the humanity and connection within our world and our cultures. Human-centered design and empathy are as equally important to the tasks of fact-finding, fact-checking and accountability when we uphold values of an informed public, the community around us, and how we hope the future will unfold.

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