It’s All Journalism: Yuri Victor of — Designing a happy, nimble, digital newsroom

It’s All Journalism is a weekly conversation about the changing state of the media and the future of journalism.

Yuri Victor says he has no idea what a senior user experience designer does.

In this new role at soon-to-be launched, he’s got an all-encompassing title.

But one of his primary goals is to help make a happy company.

“When you have a great company, you make good products,” he said.

Of course, that starts with free soda, M&M’s and a bean-bagged newsroom that’s a true embodiment to Zoey Barnes’ fictional employment at Slugline from House of Cards, but there’s a more strategic goal at play, Victor explains.

What is going to make Vox’s digital newsroom different? Everyone will be integrated.

Because that’s the main problem that interrupts great ideas making it onto digital news sites, Victor said. The many silos and exhaustive inter-department meetings it takes to get that idea off the ground. And by the time a developer has sifted through the requests, the original idea is lost in translation.

Vox is turning that problem on its head. Every single person working in the newsroom is considered a data person, a visual person and also a reporter.

Integrating these talents is solving the mixed matrix management problem (pardon the casual use of business school jargon).

Victor said that the proximity to one another allows for actual knowledge osmosis.

“When you sit a designer next to a programmer, they learn code,” he said. “When you put a designer next to a reporter, they learn how to report. It’s a shared wealth, where we all take one step up.”

The main preoccupation is to create an agile newsroom. Vox is set up with many small teams focused on creating things that can cut through the mayhem and abundance of what’s available and provide sharable resources to a user.

Victor said you never want anyone to feel shorted when they explore the content you’re offering, a belief he put into action while working on a the Know More project at The Washington Post. Know More cross-sources both large and small publications and creates an infrastructure for users to glean as much as possible from a single starting point.

“People actually want to be informed, we’ve just done a really, really poor job of giving people access to that information and putting it in a way that is accessible to them,” he said.

Listen to the full interview with Yuri Victor: