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Business & Entrepreneurship

Philadelphia Media Network and Drexel University Team Up on News App

October 23, 2015

Drexel student works on PMN app

LeBow College of Business student Zunteng Lin reviews a story while working on the new app.

Research suggests that the vast majority of young adults are interested in news, but most news apps and websites fail to meet their expectations. In a ground-breaking partnership between Drexel University and Philadelphia Media Network LLC, a cutting- edge social news app is being created by young adults with a primary goal of serving millennial audiences but with the needs of a wider array of users on mobile devices in mind. The partnership will lay the foundation for further external collaboration on research and development of PMN’s news products.

The native mobile app, available later this year for iPhone, will be focused on the Philadelphia region and draws on the award-winning journalism produced by the staffs of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com.

The app – which stresses personalization, sharing, engagement and journalistic transparency – was conceived based on research done by top undergraduate students through Drexel’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. Working under the direction of digital media entrepreneurs Jordan Motzkin and Ari Winkleman, the students come from a wide range of disciplines – including marketing, business development, arts and sciences and media art and design. They conducted in-depth peer and regional research to develop a compelling concept that they themselves and their peers across the region see as missing in the market and would regularly use.

A new team of Drexel University co-op students operating inside of Drexel’s LeBow College of Business will manage and execute the launch of the exclusive beta version alongside PMN’s leadership team. The Drexel students are including many of their peers from local universities’ school websites and newspapers as part of the beta phase.

Following the completion of the app’s beta period this fall, the student team will be embedded at PMN as they continue to build and fine-tune the app, its content, user experience and overarching strategy to best serve users seeking news in greater Philadelphia.

“This is a real-world, real-time R&D process that we plan to use as a template for the future,” said Stan Wischnowski, vice president of News Operations at PMN. “Instead of identifying a target market and trying to create products to attract them, it relies on some of the best creative minds of that target market to steer the research and development.”

PMN’s real-time R&D approach is designed to cross-pollinate the company’s core business with outside expertise and insight, as well as to accelerate the process of creation and delivery to market. “As technology continues to evolve quickly, this assures that we evolve with it,” Wischnowski said. “The project is a perfect marriage of our legacy strengths and the nimble, creative yet rigorously disciplined approach Drexel is known for.”

This initial real-time R&D project was made possible by a grant from the Lenfest Foundation, with PMN being the main beneficiary. “This revolutionary approach benefits the students, our company and our journalism,” said PMN owner Gerry Lenfest. “It will help ensure that current and future generations of young adults – indeed, all adults – will get the news they want in the way they want it.”

Drexel’s Rosalind Remer, vice provost and Lenfest executive director, Center for Cultural Partnerships said, “This carries the extra benefit of enabling students to pitch their research and product idea to the highest levels of PMN’s leadership and show just how thoroughly they've embraced and understood the challenge. Being able to take their idea from concept to product makes the collaboration between PMN and Drexel that much more satisfying.”

Eric Ulken, PMN’s director of digital strategy, said the Drexel-led app project is part of an accelerated digital product strategy, which also includes an in-progress redesign of the market’s leading website, philly.com, as well as the recent unveiling of a pro sports app featuring news and commentary on the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, Flyers and Union.

For more information, contact Amy Buckman, manager of Public Relations, Philadelphia Media Network LLC, at 215-854-5790.

Media Contact:

Niki Gianakaris

ngianakaris@drexel.edu

215.895.6741