The Struggle With Agile In Newsrooms

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about agile development. This year, we’ve been able to deploy a series of new features for our commenting infrastructure. While most of them are invisible to the users, there is one exception: Finally, we’re able to engage in the comment sections clearly labelled as official accounts.

Often, people in the newsroom are staggered about the velocity of new features we manage to release. They tell me about their struggle to get things done. These complaints regularly come from people with a background in journalism. And I think that’s the problem.


As our IT developers work agile, I, as a stakeholder, also have to be lean in my approach. So, the goal is to get the feature of the ground, then iterate and add new features.

However, even in these digital-driven times, journalists have a different mindset. Socialized with the idea of deadlines, they are always trying to achieve the best result, the perfect story, the refined product.

Although the focus on digital-first allows altering articles as the stories develop, that’s still rarely the case. One story follows another, each one in a more or less finished state. How new technologies could help “testing” stories, I explained shortly in my guide about Human-centered Storytelling.

It’s essential to build bridges to connect these two cultures within a media company since the battle on audience attention requires the joint power of IT development as well as the journalists. Leadership has to address this by creating more opportunities to learn about cultural differences, building interdisciplinary relationships, and promoting understanding of the different work approaches.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. Do you think my assumptions are correct or have you had different experiences? And what could the mentioned bridge-building look like? Hit me with your ideas and experiences by email, on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.

Best, Janosch

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