Work Notes #21

The past week came with a packed schedule. Maybe because I had the day off on Monday, but more likely because there’s a lot of development at the moment.

I attended a couple of panels at the World Media Leaders eSummit and dove into the Digital News Report 2020. Both reinforced my stance on journalism: We have to take more care of our readers, make the engagement a critical focal point in our daily tasks. Additionally, we have to think harder about the steps we need to take to create trust. Trust is the foundation on which journalism is built. Trust leads to loyalty. And loyalty leads to revenue. The pivot to paid continues to become more significant as a business model for news. However, if people don’t trust a brand, they won’t pay for it either. Trust first, I wrote back in 2019.

Another task I completed this week was the filling of our open intern position. After four interviews, I had two distinctive favorites. Now, from the interviews alone, I couldn’t decide. One applicant wrote an excellent case study; the other one wasn’t as good. In the end, however, I decided to go for the second applicant, a woman. Two reasons: First, an internship is a place to learn and grow. It’s our responsibility as a team to facilitate this learning experience. Interns shouldn’t be cheap workers.

Secondly, without this particular applicant, our team would’ve consisted of four men. I think that diversity adds incredible value to an organization and has to be taken into account in hiring decisions.


The third and last big chunk of my schedule focused around the ongoing projects and developments. We started the user tests for additional reactions in our comment section as part of the project Diamond

Also, I kicked off the UX project on our article level. I gained many insights by listening to internal stakeholders. Mainly, their struggles revolve around workflows in the production of content. Sadly, that’s something we cannot solve within that project.

Nevertheless, it’s an important realization: Yes, we should think user-centric, but we, too, need to consider the users within the organization. They’ve relevant needs that need to be appropriately addressed. We cannot add even more things for them to fulfill. It all comes down to one – often underrepresented – question: What do we stop doing?

Now, my first biggest learning this week was that every project has to have dedicated time to define needs and manage expectations. And, most importantly, a clear setup. Otherwise, everything falls apart.
The other vital learning was about culture: We need to create a safe environment. If we fail to do so, people avoid admitting their limits. They will say yes to everything, although they don’t have the resources to complete the tasks. They won’t speak up, won’t ask for help. And they will not challenge superior’s ideas (yes, mine too) or voice concerns. In short: They won’t be at their best.

P.S. Here’s a great guide on how to create a psychologically safe work environment.