Heather Bryant, Tyler Fisher, Jessica Morrison join News Catalyst team

Aron Pilhofer
News Catalyst
Published in
3 min readFeb 3, 2020


I am thrilled to announce (though slightly belatedly) our first hires to the News Catalyst team.

Heather Bryant will take on the position of deputy director, product. For this role, I was looking for someone with a sharp product focus, someone who is creative and entrepreneurial — oh, and someone who understands the challenges facing local news enterprises. I couldn’t imagine a better fit than Heather.

Heather popped on my radar while she was on her JSK Fellowship in 2016-17. Her focus was on ways to empower collaborative journalism, particularly at the local level. Four-ish years ago, collaboration was still viewed by many as a nice to have. Today we know it is more of an existential question as local news organizations are forced to do more with less.

Heather is founder and director (and lead developer) of Project Facet, a truly visionary platform designed to reduce the friction of collaborative journalism projects. Heather and I were already talking about the many ways Project Facet and News Catalyst could work together, so much more to come in this space.

Finally, Heather has a deep understanding of the challenges local news organizations face. Prior to her fellowship, Heather was hired at KTOO in the newly created role of new media producer, where, in addition to her digital duties, she did some reporting and photography. She was promoted to the editorial leadership team as digital editor, taking on additional responsibilities assigning and editing stories.

As I said, I couldn’t imagine a better fit for the role.

Tyler Fisher technically joined News Catalyst a year ago as deputy director, technology. But because we were in stealth mode, he never did get a full announcement. So let me try to rectify that right now.

Tyler comes to us from Politico, where he was senior apps developer. But I first met Tyler in 2014 while he was an intern on Brian Boyer’s supremely talented Visuals team at National Public Radio, where he ended up working full-time as a news apps developer.

Brian had already mentioned Tyler to me many times, which piqued my interest. Brian isn’t easy to impress.

I was visiting the team before heading to the Guardian in London to build a visuals desk of my own. Most newsrooms (then and now, sadly) see visuals as a nice-to-have, as ornaments to dress up the “real” journalism — which is to say words.

Over lunch with Brian and his team, Tyler and I talked about how to make visuals core, how to measure the impact of visual journalism, and some of the experiments the team was undertaking around impact. This was not just a brilliant technologist, but someone who thought deeply about the more fundamental problems facing the industry. And, needless to say, Tyler was clearly someone I needed to keep on the radar in case an opportunity opened up in the future.

Lucky for me, it did. Tyler was literally my first call for the deputy director, technology, role and I couldn’t be more delighted he agreed to take this challenge on.

And finally, Jessica Morrison joins us as product lead from the American Chemical Society, where she is senior product manager for Chemical and Engineering News. She will be splitting her time between C&EN and News Catalyst.

I got to know Jessica at last year’s SRCCON in Minneapolis, where she and C&EN Editorial Director, Amanda Yarnell, led a mind-blowingly great workshop on building a functional product process and mindset in even the smallest news organizations. The session was inspired by Jessica’s own journey building a highly functional product practice at C&EN over the past 18 months.

As we talked, it was pretty obvious that Jessica was not only spooky smart and brilliantly talented, she has a lot to contribute to the core problems News Catalyst was created to address in local news — particularly in the area of training and organizational development. Thankfully, Amanda agreed and was willing to arrange for Jessica to work with us half-time.

Jessica’s initial focus will be developing our pilot Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms training course with the Newmark School and Google. Over time, we will be drawing more of her experience and expertise to help newsrooms of all sizes become more product focused.

Please join me in welcoming all three to the News Catalyst team.



Aron Pilhofer
News Catalyst

James B. Steele Chair in Journalism Innovation at @TUKleincollege. Proud @Guardian and @nytimes alum. Co-founder of @documentcloud & @HacksHackers. Yachtsman.