Hi! I’m Mandy Jenkins.
I’m a journalist, researcher, and occasional teacher who’s learned how to lead on “the business side” and build great products.
I started in digital journalism at a time when most jobs didn’t yet have titles, there were just tasks to be done and few people with the skills to do them. Because of this, I have had to pave my own way at every company I’ve worked for, making my own jobs and trying to do whatever I can to contribute to a future for news.
What’s Up With Me Lately
I’ve had a wide range of experience from working in established, traditional newsrooms as well as innovative digital startups. I am currently the Head of Product at Factal, a breaking news technology company that helps the world’s largest organizations protect people, avoid disruptions and expedite disaster relief when global events put them at immediate risk.
Aside from my day job, I also frequently take on freelance projects or give training sessions focusing on helping large and small news organizations refocus and rebuild their audience, digital news, or audience engagement strategies.
Prior to this, I was the General Manager for The Compass Experiment, a collaboration between McClatchy and Google to explore sustainable business models for local news. We launched Mahoning Matters, an accountability journalism publication based in Youngstown, Ohio in October of 2019. In May of 2020, we launched The Longmont Leader, a local news and community publication based in Longmont, Colorado. I departed the project in February 2021, though I’m still a big fan of both sites and their amazing teams.
The Compass Experiment was the first start-up I led, but I have been lucky enough to be part of building and growing many innovative news organizations. I was part of the ground-up teams at TBD and Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome – both places where innovation and experimentation were built into the DNA. I joined Storyful just after its acquisition by News Corp. and saw its transition from a startup to an established, world-leading social news and technology company.
When I was starting out as an overnight web producer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I wanted to do more than just shovel print stories online. I helped to start a breaking news blog, staff blog network, and daily news podcast. In 2007, when social media was emerging as a potential game-changer for media, I created a social media strategy at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where I became one of the first social media editors in the country. I went on to manage social media and engagement for TBD, which, in its short time of existence, was heralded for its use of using social media for newsgathering and reader acquisition.
Working as part of the creative and innovative social media and trends team on the politics desk at The Huffington Post early in the 2012 presidential race, I got the chance to take engagement to the next level by running the company’s citizen journalism program OfftheBus.
During this time period, I was teaching part-time at Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where I co-taught classes on social journalism and entrepreneurial journalism. I hope to someday return to teaching future journalists, but life has to slow down a bit first.
In the time since, I’ve been working with journalists across the United States and abroad to establish and evolve their digital skills and social media savvy through training programs, workshops and research.
In June of 2019, I completed a John S. Knight journalism fellowship at Stanford University. I was one of 17 journalists from around the world selected for the 2019 class. During my fellowship, I took classes in management, business strategy, entrepreneurship, and user-centered design. I also conducted independent, ethnographic research on the disconnection between mainstream media and news consumers, with a primary focus on disinformation.
Another major part of my professional life has been the Online News Association, where I served on the Board of Directors (including two years as president, 2018-2019) for eight years. ONA is the world’s largest association of digital journalists, committed to inspiring innovation and excellence among digital journalists to better serve the public. I also serve on the Board of the News Leaders Association, which empowers journalists with the training, support, and networks they need to lead and transform diverse, sustainable newsrooms.
I received my B.S. in journalism at Kent State University, where I feel I learned what it really means to be a journalist at the Daily Kent Stater. I liked KSU so much that I stuck around to get a Master’s in media management two years later on a fellowship with WKSU (a local NPR affiliate). While attending graduate school, I also co-founded Fusion, a publication covering LGBTQ issues in Northeast Ohio, which remains in publication today.