New job for me at The Seattle Times: VP of innovation, product and development

Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) Paranormal Studies Lab in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

I’m thrilled and thankful that in a world infected with fake news, I’ll get to drive innovation for a company that is all about fact-based, in-depth, independent journalism.

I’m moving to a new job at The Seattle Times! I’ll be the new Vice President of Innovation, Product and Development.

My job is to build innovative products so The Seattle Times remains an independent, family-owned provider of kick-ass public-service journalism. I’ll also get to work with the data mavens in our business intelligence team to spread understanding of our customer throughout the company.

I’ll continue the work of fund development for journalism initiatives that deepen coverage and conversation about urgent public issues that are critical to our region’s future.

This does mean I’m leaving the newsroom :( . It’s been so much fun leading our Audience Development team as deputy managing editor the past year — we’ve run lots of experiments to build audiences through email, social and search and turned many of them into best practices (which will need continual improvement).

It’s a privilege to work for a company now in its fourth and fifth generation of family ownership. Check out this 120th anniversary message from our publisher and CEO Frank Blethen.

In the (paraphrased) words of the 1896 Blethen, “Raise hell and sell news.”

Have ideas? Let me know at sharon@sharonpianchan.com

Here is The Seattle Times press release:

For Immediate Release — Dec 21, 2016
China Levy, Public Affairs
206.464.2033 | clevy@seattletimes.com

Sharon Pian Chan named The Seattle Times’ vice president of innovation, product and development

SEATTLE — Sharon Pian Chan has been named vice president of innovation, product and development for The Seattle Times, effective January 2017. She first joined The Seattle Times as an intern and spent many years as a reporter covering global institutions rooted in Seattle such as Microsoft and T-Mobile.

The position is new to The Times and unique in the industry. It brings, under one umbrella, The Seattle Times’ innovation in developing non-traditional funding for impact journalism with the newspaper’s evolving capacity to create new products and services for digital, engagement and print platforms.

Chan currently fills both the positions of director of journalism initiatives and deputy managing editor for audience development.

In her new role, Chan will continue to lead content funding and development as well as maintain funder relationships. A new director of development for public service journalism, reporting to Chan, will be hired soon.

She will also lead the Times’ product team in building innovative products to distribute Seattle Times content, engage readers and acquire subscribers. Additionally, Chan will take on the responsibility of managing Business Intelligence, a group using data insights to drive business success.

“Sharon has a deep understanding of the newsroom, and the business units which support it,” said Publisher Frank Blethen. “She’s demonstrated the ability to work cross-functionally to drive business outcomes, and will be an instrumental part of our future. We’re excited to see what Sharon will do in this new role. I’m confident that under her guidance, we will continue to evolve and expand as the region’s leading provider of award-winning independent journalism.”

This new position builds on Chan’s journalistic experience and expertise devising audience development strategies.

Prior to her current role, she was associate opinion editor, where she expanded opinion outreach and its community forum. She was responsible there for overseeing the engagement work of Education Lab – the nation’s most innovative newspaper education effort, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I’m thrilled to take on this new role at The Seattle Times,” Chan said. “In a world of fake news and clickbait, The Seattle Times remains committed to fact-based, in-depth, independent journalism about the place our readers care most about: home. My job is to get our journalism to them with innovative products that cut through the information overload and improve their lives.”

Chan holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from Pomona College. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She has served as national president of the nonprofit Asian American Journalists Association and as a board member of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity. Before joining The Seattle Times, she was managing editor for Orange Coast magazine in Newport Beach, California.

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How to land your first job in journalism

Thank you to the University of Washington for inviting me to speak to college seniors in the journalism program about “How to Land Your First Job in Journalism.” A special thanks to Jessica Partnow, artist in residence in the journalism program.

Here is the presentation I shared below.

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New job for me: Deputy Managing Editor of Audience and Initiatives

2016-02-02 16.42.53

I’m thrilled to share that I have a new job at The Seattle Times! I will be the new deputy managing editor for audience and initiatives.

My goal is to maximize readership across all platforms for the great journalism The Times does. The newly created job will involve building up our newsroom strategy on digital metrics, social media, newsletters, SEO and the in-real-life engagement work that connects our journalists to the Seattle community. I’ll lead a team of Avengers-like experts in building online audiences and engaging the community: Andrew MacRae, Greg Rasa and Anika Anand. I’ll report to Editor Kathy Best and Publisher Frank Blethen in this new role.

I’ll also work on newsroom recruiting, with the goal of increasing diversity in our newsroom so that our stories and our staff reflect the diversity of the community we serve.

For the past year, I worked as director of journalism initiatives and I will continue to work on creating and sustaining initiatives such as Education Lab (in partnership with Solutions Journalism Network and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), our youth and homelessness project (funded by Annie E. Casey Foundation) and other good social-impact stuff that we are incubating.

It’s a privilege to work for one of the last family-owned independent news organizations in the country. Check out this 120th anniversary message from our publisher Frank Blethen. To paraphrase the Blethen who started it all, raise hell and sell news.

I'm thrilled to share that I have a new job at The Seattle Times! I will be the new deputy managing editor for audience...

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Ignite Talk on The Curse of Expertise

I gave my first Ignite Talk! Ignite Talks are 5-minutes long with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.

The talk is about “The Curse of Expertise” and it draws heavily from an MBA class I’m taking at MIT called Organizational Processes taught by Roberto Fernandez.

The talk took place at Newsgeist, a gathering on the future of news sponsored by Google and the Knight Foundation in Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 20, 2015.

I gave my first Ignite Talk! Ignite Talks are 5-minutes long with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. The talk...

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How to land a job in the digital age

Searching for a job is hard but landing a job is even harder. The career landscape is evolving, and the job search is evolving along with it. Personal brand, social media, digital footprint – what does it all mean? Do you need to be on Twitter? What about LinkedIn? Generic won’t make the cut any more.

Paul Cheung and I talked about strategies to stand out at “Landing a job in the digital age,” a session at the annual gathering of the LGBT journalists association, the NLGJA convention, in San Francisco on Sept. 5, 2015. Paul is director of Interactive & Digital News Production at the Associated Press and president of the Asian American Journalists Association.

During the workshop, we talked about what it takes to move you up the hiring priority list, from designing a resume to impressing your interviewer. We also talked about how to stand out — online, in print and in person. Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Did you miss it? Here’s the presentation we gave:

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New ways to fund media, a journalism workshop at the 2015 AAJA convention

Forget pitching your editor on a story. How about pitching a nonprofit foundation on a journalism project with social impact? How about pitching an investor on building a publishing platform?

Check out the presentation from a 90-minute workshop called “New Ways to Fund Media” that was designed to help journalists develop fresh projects that can gain a support base beyond the traditional newsroom. Los Angeles Times reporter Anh Do and I organized the session at the Asian American Journalists Association national convention in San Francisco on Aug. 20, 2015. Thank you to our panelists:

  • Joaquin Alvarado, CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Jennifer Choi, democracy program officer for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation
  • James Hong, angel investor
  • Manami Kano, deputy director of strategic media partnerships for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Special guest appearance by Jenny 8 Lee, co-founder of Plympton

Thank you to our session volunteers Brady Wakayama, KJ Hiramoto and Jill Cowan.

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How to write an op-ed, a session at AAJA Media Institute 2015

Thank you to AAJA for having Jeff Yang and me lead a session in San Francisco at the AAJA Media Institute. Here is the replay of our presentation and workshop on “How to Write and Pitch Powerful Op-Eds.”

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Starting an executive MBA program at MIT Sloan this fall

MIT gear, courtesy of Karen Johnson
I have news: I will be starting an MBA program this fall at MIT’s Sloan School of Management!

It’s an executive MBA program for mid-career students. I will continue to work at The Seattle Times full-time as director of journalism initiatives and I’ll fly out to Boston every three weeks to attend weekend classes. Thank you to The Seattle Times for giving me the time to do the program.

I’m super excited. The past six months of work finding new ways to fund journalism have been creatively energizing. It’s made me realize that I want to figure out how newspapers can make money again.

I chose MIT Sloan for its mission: To develop principled, innovative, senior leaders capable of transforming the world’s important institutions. The connection to the MIT Media Lab was also a major draw.

Thank you for being a part of my journey. Have advice, thoughts to share? Let me know.

I have news: I will be starting an MBA program this fall at MIT's Sloan School of Management! It's an executive MBA prog...

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