April 28, 2016

When Masuma Ahuja and Sarah Marshall sat down to interview each other about their jobs last year, they introduced us to the idea of experiment land. Ahuja, then at The Washington Post and now at CNN, and The Wall Street Journal’s Marshall, talked about fostering innovation in their newsrooms.

“It’s fascinating because we’re both from legacy publications that are doing great things in digital,” Marshall told Ahuja then. “But your job in experiment land is kind of where I’m heading.”

Both women were part of the first ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. As we get ready for next week’s 2016 academy, we thought we’d look back on some of the lessons from last year. (You can also follow last year’s class and this year’s class, and look for updates at #digitalwomenleaders).

Leadership starts with you

“Leading yourself means knowing what you need, knowing if you’re getting it and knowing what you’re going to do if you’re not getting it,” The Boston Globe’s Laura Amico told the group.

Amico offered a lot of questions to consider about how to lead yourself, how to lead a team and how to think about audience.


Metrics matter

The Los Angeles Times’ Mitra Kalita loves metrics, but numbers are just one tool, she said last year.

A lot of writers make the mistake of seeing metrics as a breakdown of only their performance, when it is actually so much more. Actually, we’ve always used data to inform news gathering. I’m thinking of the ‘rule of three’ — when reporters would write features based on seeing or hearing about three examples of instances of a trend.


Don’t just ask for more money

Guest faculty member Will Neville-Rehbehn talked about thinking beyond what you see in your paycheck when it’s time to negotiate a salary or ask for a raise.

There are the things you may not know are on the table, such as relocation expenses, equity, signing bonuses, negotiable vacation time, things that change so drastically from company to company that you’re not sure if it’s something you should be talking about.


Stay bossy

We asked women at last year’s academy about words used to describe women in leadership. Here’s what we heard:

Women have to claim their successes

This final lesson didn’t come from last year but in getting ready for this one. Poynter’s Katie Hawkins-Gaar and other judges who reviewed applications discovered that they didn’t get the full picture of how central a role applicants played in big projects until they spoke with their co-workers.

‘It felt like a recurring theme that I didn’t realize just how badass these women were until I read reference letters — so many women undersold themselves in comparison to what their peers/bosses had to say about them,’ one of the judges said after reviewing applicants.


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Kristen Hare covers the people and business of local news and is the editor of Locally at Poynter. She previously worked as a staff writer…
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