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How might we help New York Times readers to understand the value of reporters?



We created an add-on feature in existing NYT mobile app, where users can discover snippets of field notes and stories behind the home page, article page, and newly introduced reporters' profile page. To satisfied user's curiosity over behind-the-scene stories and needs of instant gratification, the contents contain short videos, audio clips, and photos captured by reporters to uncover their reporting journey, whether it is unexpected encounters or field obstacles due to weather condition.


Spotlight reveals the hard work of reporters with the redesigned home screen, sparking more personal relationships with the readers.


Scope : 5 weeks
Advisor : Renda Morton (The New York Times)
Collaborators : Yumeng Ji, Xiaoxi Yuan
Role : concept generation, user research, generate wireframe, ui design



How does it work?


1. A rope on the homepage during the on-boarding process, where the user will pull down out of curiosity, revealing the new feature “Spotlight”. Readers are able to discover field notes/stories from different reporters, which include videos, audio, and pictures.

2. When users click into the polar bear field story. They will see all field stories and experiences related to a particular reporter's article, here, you see reporter Kendra and her journey to the Arctic.

3. While on the field story page, users also can click on the headshot, which leads them to reporter's profile, showcasing all other articles and related field stories. Or, they can click on the title, which takes them to text-based article for in-depth reading.

4. Spotlight can be accessed through home page, but also behind the individual article page, opening up a whole new experience when reading an article.



The team brainstorms ideas on how to showcase transparency. We created a empathy journey map, discovering how users are doing, thinking, feeling, and experiencing, along with opportunities.

Desk Research
We discovered the NYT has already been developing products to expose reporting process. Spotlight is more feasible by leveraging

  1. Times Insider : a premium subscription offering focuses more on behind-the-scenes access to The Times newsroom and journalists' experiences and expertise.

  2. The Daily : daily news podcast, where audiences can hear field stories from local reporters.

  3. The Year in Visual Stories and Graphics : a yearly recap with Times graphics, visualizations and multimedia stories to deliver stronger news storytelling.

User Interview Key Findings:

  • People don’t have a clear idea how much effort put into an article.

  • Interested in behind-the-scene stories.

  • People prefer visuals over text.

  • People prefer not to download a new app.