Portfolio: Innovations in Journalism.

Bleeding-edge technology paired with award-winning journalism.

 

For five years, I had the privilege of working in Tribune Tower, called both “a cathedral to journalism” and “the world’s most beautiful office building.”

I was a teenager who had been writing columns and feature stories for its sister paper, The Sun-Sentinel, when I stood outside the Chicago Tribune’s doors, in awe of what I believed to be the best newspaper in the country. I vowed to return as an editor.

I got to live that dream.

I started as a producer for WGN-TV, in charge of the website. In less than a year, I helped the website go from ranking last place in the market to the top spot. We covered stories that mattered to people, earning Emmy nominations in hard news for a cross-newsroom investigation of unsanitary conditions at one of the nation’s largest airports, using tools I introduced to gather and report the news differently.

Those innovations also helped save lives. I’m especially proud of our Tornado Education work. Alongside WGN-TV's Chief Meteorologist, Tom Skilling, one of television’s true greats, I led a team to create an online tornado and severe weather center to teach citizens how to avoid deadly storms. Our work was also nominated for an Emmy award.

I was promoted to lead features coverage for the entire Tribune network of newspaper and television websites. I oversaw coverage for the nation’s biggest stories, assigning stories and editing text, video, and photos. I managed a team of seasoned reporters and led the internship program, introducing high school and college students to the fundamentals of journalism.

I worked on everything from health care reform to recipes, from Michael Jackson to technology, and both historic 2008 and 2012 elections. I ran the map on election night in 2008. The newsroom’s windows were open and we could hear the screaming down the street at Grant Park when Barack Obama was elected.

For the election in 2012, I produced the results coverage for the entire tablet and mobile experience.

I had been promoted again to create innovative content and develop strategies for a news organization transitioning from a print-to-digital mindset.

I traveled to SXSW to scout innovation. I created partnerships with media organizations to expand the company’s reach. I taught my colleagues across the organization how to thrive in a digital-first environment.

And, I worked on projects that were all firsts for the time. Here are a few I loved:

Mobile First

As the way people got their news changed from broadsheet to computer to tablets and phones, the news had to change to manage this flow. I led the content direction and implementation to scale news websites to all devices. I also wrote articles and performed reader outreach as the consumer face for the Chicago Tribune launch.

Tablet Newspaper

When tablets were first on the market, I led the daily content direction for a tablet newspaper proof-of-concept. I worked directly with developers, designers, project and product managers, QA engineers, research, marketing and sales professionals, and executives.

My colleagues said the project couldn't have been done without me, and the project manager named me "Subject Matter Expert of the Year" for my contributions.

Android App

Working with the Los Angeles Times, we created an app to help citizens understand the crime statistics of their neighborhood.

My negotiations with the technology vendor resulted in a five figure savings.

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Geocoding

Before mapping was ubiquitous, I led the product development on an enterprise-level initiative to add geolocation to every news story. If you’re not “techy,” you may feel your eyes glaze over, but if you’re curious like I am, you’ll enjoy how the system came to be: I wrote the requirements for geotagged data to flow through two separate content management systems. I collaborated with the development team and the management team to communicate the needs of end users and producers. I taught eight newsrooms how to add location to their reporting, and I also led the design direction for the web and mobile integration. That work laid the foundation to see a map of where stories occurred; to utilize data to understand the overarching themes.

Entertainment and Fashion Site

We designed Hollywood 101 for millennials who craved a snappy, irrelevant look at celebrities and how to mimic their fashion choices on a budget.

I created the content concept, as well as advertising integration points. I hired a team and created the proof-of-concept site under a two-week deadline. I also wrote the promotional video.

Writing

My first article appeared in print when I was 12, and I continue to write and publish. There have been many stories, but I have two favorites: This opinion column about race and parenting. I love the discussion it sparked as the most shared piece of the year. And my first celebrity interview ever. I love that, over twenty years later, I can see my earnestness in each line. I remember how terrified I was, how gracious she was, and how lucky I felt to embark on an incredible career in journalism.