New to Town

Rethinking News Audience Needs

When people move to a new community, they have a million questions about their new home. Meanwhile, news organizations serving that community have an interest in “meeting” those new people and converting them into subscribers. The Indianpolis (“Indy”) Star, one of Medill’s Local News Initiative partners has identified this as an opportunity in their coverage area. This project provides the opportunity to work on a real challenge in media innovation and product development. Students will research the needs of newcomers to the Indianapolis metro area and prototype a service to meet those needs. This work will be done in consultation with the Indy Star, with a goal of designing an experiment for them to execute later this year.

Faculty and Staff Leads

Joe Germuska

Chief Nerd

Joe runs Knight Lab’s technology, professional staff and student fellows. Before joining us, Joe was on the Chicago Tribune News Apps team. Also, he hosts a weekly radio show on WNUR-FM – Conference of the Birds.

Zach Wise

Associate Professor

Emmy winning interactive producer & Associate Professor @NorthwesternU, @KnightLab. Formerly of The New York Times. Creator of TimelineJS & StoryMapJS

Project Details

2020 Spring

Important Questions
  • What are the information needs for people in the first year after they move to a new community?
  • How have real estate agents, governments, and media organizations tried to serve those needs in the past?
  • How might we update that approach to better fit today’s information environment?
  • What assets, resources, and talent does a media organization have that could help support newcomers? What’s the difference between “news” and “information” for newcomers?
  • How can a media organization leverage services to new residents into a longer-term subscriber/member relationship? How might a media organization need to think differently, for example, when maintaining “evergreen” resources compared to frequently filing new stories?
Sample Milestones
  • Weeks 1-3: Meet with Indy Star team. Review preliminary audience research. Research existing systems for helping new residents. Conduct expert interviews. Develop persona and other artifacts documenting user research.
  • Weeks 4-6: Generate and refine concepts for products/services that meet persona needs.
  • Weeks 7-10: Test concepts and iterate; develop an action plan and present it to the team from the Star.

Students will get real experience in the work of design research for media product innovation. They will produce artifacts documenting their work, and make a proposal to our partner for how to test the new ideas and further explore the opportunity.

Apply to Project