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Case Study

Envisioning the future of online public media.


NewsWorks.org (the online home of WHYY News) received a grant from the Knight Foundation to partner with several consultants and agencies to explore new ways to achieve their goals. We were selected as one of these partners to help research and cast the vision for a new model for the future of online public media.

In-Depth Research

We started with in-depth research on number of different topics:

  • We looked at how people consume digital media today, content delivery models for both traditional and new media organizations, and content delivery models for non-media organizations that could be adapted.
  • We also examined member and non-member business models for media organizations, and did an audit of NewsWorks.org’s design, web analytics, and social media channels.

Think Sessions


To supplement the insight of our small team, everyone at Think Brownstone was invited to a “Special Missions” session. To prepare, we asked everyone to spend at least an hour on NewsWorks.org, compile feedback, think about how they consume their news, and provide ideas on how they would like to consume information in the future. One of the most important parts of our Special Missions is good food – so we ordered takeout from Tiffin. Both the food and the insights of our team were enlightening.

Then we met with the core NewsWorks team for an all-day Think Session™. The first half of the day was dedicated to reviewing our findings and discussing their implications to NewsWorks’ evolving strategy. During the second half of the day we facilitated group exercises to explore the vision and goals of this new model, and develop personas and use cases for the future of public media.


Strategic Thinking


We compiled the research, insights and ideas we generated into a Digital Engagement Strategy for the future of NewsWorks. The core of this strategy is a responsive news model that incorporates a multi-channel publishing strategy and interactive features that enable users to become active participants in the NewsWorks.org community.

The NewsWorks team is using strategy and insight received from the various partners to influence the creation a consolidated plan that will help them to achieve their goal of user-powered news. They are currently seeking philanthropic funding to pilot this new model in Philadelphia, with the potential for replication of the model in other major metropolitan areas throughout the country.

“Think Brownstone achieved a rare double: By listening carefully, they really got who we were, what we wanted to achieve and what values were driving us. But Think Brownstone also did a great job of showing how our ‘public media’ problems and goals look from several pertinent vantage points that aren’t native to our team: the innovative technologist and the customer-driven entrepreneur.”

Chris Satullo, Executive Director of News at WHYY