Earlier this month, I had the privilege of participating in a PBS MediaShift organized Collab/Space event. The event, which was hosted at the Ford Foundation headquarters, offered nine “intrapreneurs” an opportunity to present their media-related startup-y projects and field questions from the audience. The afternoon was spent working with the "intrapreneurs” in groups to address various project-related challenges.
NOTE: There is a terrific post on the PBS Media Shift site that summarizes all the presentations and ideas that were shared throughout the day. Here is an excerpt from that post that briefly highlights the different projects that were presented:
> We heard from NPR about its Analytics Dashboard, a new tool for the newsroom which the social news desk was trying to get adopted around the company.
> From the Wall Street Journal came a presentation by David Biderman on their new CMS (content management system) application and the difficulties the developers had in getting it adopted beyond for the World Cup coverage.
> NY Daily News‘ Cyna Alderman presented their Innnovation Lab — whose goal is to bring startups under its wing, facilitate them and use their innovations at the Daily News itself. People at the Daily News do work on the Lab as 20% of their work time, and thus don’t always prioritize it.
> Vox‘s Scott Kellum presented their cardstacks explainers, and the challenge that Vox had in getting more people to share and view them.
> Facebook’s Jason White described the social network’s FBNewswire project (in collaboration with Storyful) and was hoping to create a better version for news publisers.
> Community radio station WFMU‘s general manager Ken Freedman presented their Audience Engine commenting system and told the audience how good he was at talking down trolls (he called himself a “troll whisperer”).
You can read more about the presented projects here.
My role was to help identify the most interesting issues and challenges facing the "intrapreneurs” and frame the questions and opportunities that the working groups should prioritize during the afternoon session.
Even with only five minutes to present, and ten minutes of questions per project, there were too many issues/questions/ideas collected to be fully considered during the workshops in the afternoon. Still, I think a lot of the issues/questions/ideas that were collected are interesting, and potentially useful - to the "intrapreneurs” who presented, to others working on driving change inside a media company, and potentially others. So, I pulled together my notes/questions for each group and have pasted them below.
Let me know what you think.
Q: How do you pull multiple streams of data (make multiple calls) - from various sources - more effectively? Do you build an internal data storage capacity? Is there benefit beyond NPR if you create a centralized data repository of some kind that many can easily access?
Q: Who else might NPR talk with (e.g. Mashable) about predictive analytics, or comparative data sources? How might you establish benchmarks to compare coverage of certain topics (NPR Politics vs someone else’s politics) to inform thinking?
Q: Audio metrics - how do you integrate them into the dashboard? How do you increase the sophistication/availability of tracking of audio to create equivalent of data available for digital?
Ashoka & Google’s Course Builder: Empathy for Educators
Q: Does Ashoka need to change/imrpve more than just the course offering (e.g. the entire online learning world) to realize success? Does the entier approach/culture of learning need to change? What is their theory of change?
Q: Does the vision scale? Are there 6,000 schools that care as much as the original 60 schools that have participated? Public schools vs. private schools? How does the target universe of schools compare to the profile of existing changemakers (or the desire to ensure that a diverse audience of kids is engaged)?
NY Times’ Streamtools
Q: What helps people overcome the barrier to entry/starting? Framing? Education? What do they need to think about to get people to embrace this data stream?
Q: Is there an internal mechanism for gaining adoption (emerging from the R&D lab vs. the entire company)? How do you get 'normal people’ to provide insights that could help to craft the tool and position it for success?
Q: Are there products that the data can feed? Are there things to test or just ideas, requests that people have) - some way to make it real, understandable in context? Does this connect to the original problem you were trying to solve? Is the vision being sold (and the 'imagination gap’ being closed)?
Q: Are there specific people/groups that could be approached to get help (Aaron P, others)? What patterns/insights/models would be useful to learn from?
Q: Is 'making a tool’ the way to solve this problem (vs. teaching people better ways to think about data AND giving them a tool to make that work easier)?
Q: Are there standards/protocols in place for good vs. bad charts? How to scale those standards - especially to places that might use the tool, but don’t have the same appreciation for, or internal capabilities of the team at Quartz?
Q: What usage prioritizes, presentation formats matter - how do you decide which audiences to serve, which devices to focus on, formats to create so that you don’t end up trying to create a customized toolset?
WSJ’s modern CMS
Q: How do you build something new so that you don’t end up waiting ten years to update it again (speed, culture process)? How do you break through the bureaucracy? How do you use to the bureaucracy to your benefit?
Q: How many other excuses (like the World Cup) could you identify as a way to experiment with, learn from, etc. - before you proceed with getting a project approved internally?
Q: Does the WSJ want to be like other news organizations, or does it want to focus on improving its current approach? Instead of looking at newer, digital-first journalism organizations, can embracing/defining/codifying your vision provide you with the focus to make a real difference?
NY Daily News’ Innovation Lab
Q: What about the model of successful incubators - outside of the media space - helps/doesn’t help here, and how do you maximize those elements? What models are best… techstars, Y Combinator, etc?
Vox Media’s Cardstacks
Q: Are card stacks a product, a format, a type of content (all three, something else)? Does that matter in terms of helping people to understand their value? Do you need instructions to explain how card stacks are to be utilized by readers in order to shape the behavior that you want from the user?
Q: How else might people access car stacks? Email newsletter? What push opportunities exist - generally (to build knowledge over time) or time/context specific (when the opportunity arises)?
Q: What do the user habits of older users (the primary Vox audience) potentially do as to inform the future of card stacks? Are they designed for the audience Vox has, or for the audience Vox wants? Can the same approach to card stacks serve both?
Q: Are there models for collaborative news gathering/production (e.g. how we used to do election exit polling, results) that Facebook can learn from? Beyond discover-ability of news, what needs to be organized/codified (e.g. legal rules for use of images, sharing protocols)? How should Facebook be involved in the shaping of these systems/processes - vs. expecting an outside group to establish them?
Q: Can you make something like Facebook newswire bespoke/tailored/customized for the needs and interests of individual news organizations/users and still have it scale?
Q: How do you mix/integrate with trends and other data that is available with limited (human) resources? What would be game-changing priorities? How about Facebook as a Service (FAAS)?
Q: How do you improve 360-degree tracking to determine/learn more about how news is consumed/shared? What can Facebook study that would create intelligence that would help news organizations (and in doing so, increase their likelihood of wanting to use Facebook news content in their work)? Example: Participant Productions study on viral social change films.
WFMU’s Audience Engine
Q: What startup incubation is worth organizing (e.g. a lab approach), or supporting/forcing to solve your issues more proactively? How might you get people from different areas of expertise, or those with shared interest in figuring these out, together.