Lenfest Local Lab job opening: Neighborhood Newsletter Editor

A one-year post to oversee a hyperlocal newsletter collaboration with The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Lenfest Local Lab is looking for a community-focused email newsletter editor to oversee a series of exciting neighborhood newsletter pilot projects in collaboration with The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2020.

The project is supported by a Google News Initiative grant for experimentation with new hyperlocal news products that embrace the benefits of technical automation, broad editorial collaboration and new business model generation.

You can read more about the project here.

What is the Lenfest Local Lab?

The Lenfest Local Lab is a product and customer experience innovation team within the Lenfest Institute for Journalism that works in the open to serve the local news industry. Our tight-knit, cross-functional group includes a journalist and product manager, two engineers, a full-stack research and user experience designer and an analytics and measurement expert. Our range of skills and backgrounds reflects our focus on community engagement, location-based product experimentation and designing around the real needs of local communities. Our team explores new product ideas with the principles of research, technology, collaboration and sustainability at the core of our work.

We’re entering our second year of work, after having launched a handful of new product experiments in 2019 with The Philadelphia Inquirer. All of our experiments have focused on exploring location-based opportunities for local news, including a focus on neighborhoods, communities and new formats as a way to respond to readers’ place and preferences.

You can read more about our experiments here.

Job Description

We’re looking for a capable and collaborative editor to help us launch two to three newsletter pilots next year with The Inquirer. The editor will be involved in all aspects of each newsletter’s development, evolution and growth as our team tests out the type of news, data and information that is most valuable to Philadelphia-area community members and residents.

On a weekly basis the editor will draw on a wide range of news and information sources to compile the most useful and engaging newsletters, including journalism from The Philadelphia Inquirer and other neighborhood news and information providers. The role also includes parsing and presenting public data about the neighborhood via data visualizations, as well as curating locally-relevant social media items and local event listings, among other neighborhood related news and information.

Original reporting, in the form of photos, videos or interviews with local residents, will be needed from time to time.

The editor will also cultivate open feedback loopswith neighborhood residents, embracing an openness to hearing from people about the news and information that’s most important to them, and then quickly finding and curating the sources to meet those needs.

There will be a ton of space for creativityflexibility and fun in this role, but never at the expense of accuracy, solid news judgement, an eye toward engagement and the ability to meet publishing deadlines.

That said, this team will have your back each step of the way, supporting the development of new features, brainstorming ideas and helping measure what’s working and what isn’t in order to make improvements as we go.

Additional responsibilities

In addition to editorial tasks, you will also have a broad range of product development related responsibilities, including:

  • Being keyed into user and market research for each neighborhood
  • Participating in design reviews
  • Earning the trust of stakeholders at The Inquirer and various neighborhood collaborators
  • Contributing to analysis and measurement conversations
  • Taking part in business modeling exercises

The newsletter editor should also feel comfortable writing and publishing about the ins-and-outs of their work through our Medium publication and on the Institute site. They will also present their work to internal teams as well as in public, sharing what they’ve learned in the role.

As newsletter editor

You have these qualities

  • Deep curiosity about the role news and information plays in the quality of life on a community level
  • Comfort working with engineers and designers to articulate what tools and features are needed to produce the highest quality neighborhood newsletter
  • Willingness to spend time in the neighborhoods we’re serving to get a real-time understanding of the issues and concerns of the area (time may be spent attending local meetings, visiting businesses, etc.)
  • Openness to collaboration with other subject matter experts, and a proven ability to think creatively, problem solve and communicate perspectives openly and honestly with a team
  • Are an open book when it comes to sharing ideas, designs and concepts within the team and with our partners at The Inquirer; ensuring the balance between experimentation and high quality work
  • You work with a bias toward action and feel comfortable with experimentation & learning
  • You are invested in the future of journalism, communities and civic participation

You have this experience

  • Making strong editorial judgements, preferably with newsletters, including what’s important to a defined audience
  • Excellent writing and communication skills with a range of tone and voice, including digital headline writing, especially for inboxes
  • Success growing and engaging audiences via email
  • Ability to meet deadlines, deliver and execute on plans; paired with a willingness to ask for help or ask questions when you need support
  • Experience working with data and creating data visualizations to tell a compelling story
  • Using newsletter publishing tools including MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Substack, or others
  • Using digital communication and collaboration tools, such as Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Slack, etc.; experience with Sketch, Github, Medium and Trello is a plus

You have this knowledge or familiarity

Familiarity with the ways communities currently access news and information, including social media groups, community meetings and other hyperlocal sites, apps and newsletters (i.e. Patch, Nextdoor, Citizen, etc.)Previous experience with community organizing or civic participation is preferred, but not required

Application Details

Status: One year contract

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Compensation: $55,000 — $65,000

How to apply: Send your resume to [email protected]. Cover letter optional.

Our Commitment to Equity

The Lenfest Local Lab, a program of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, is committed to building and supporting diverse and inclusive teams to explore the future of sustainable local news. As part of our regular practice we open source code, insights and data from our work in an effort to support a culture of open innovation in local newsrooms across the country. We believe that if we’re more open about our experiences — from successes to failures to challenges we’ve overcome — we can all build better products for our communities, faster. Our team is looking to add more voices and more lived experiences to the mix, which is critical to our ability to test new products that address emerging and latent news needs in local communities. We strongly encourage candidates from a wide range of communities to apply. We welcome applicants of all backgrounds and experiences.

About the Lenfest Institute for Journalism

Journalism requires new business models, powerful innovations and diverse audiences. The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is working throughout local news ecosystems, in Philadelphia and beyond, to crack the code on a sustainable future for this vital resource.

The Lenfest Institute was founded in 2016 by the late cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest. Lenfest gifted to the Institute an initial endowment of $20 million, which has since been supplemented by other donors, for investment in innovative news initiatives, new technology, and new models for sustainable journalism. Lenfest also gifted his ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer to the Institute.

The Inquirer is now the largest newspaper in America operated as a public-benefit corporation. The Institute’s ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer — which covers one of the largest, most diverse metro regions in the country — is the cornerstone of its enthusiastic investment in local news and the need to act decisively in all that we undertake.

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