Meet The Newest Members of the ideaLab


Meet the newest members of Digital First Media’s ideaLab.

These 25 fantastic MediaNews Group employees join their 15 enterprising colleagues at Journal Register Company who have made up the ideaLab for the past two years.

The latest members of the ideaLab hail from all parts of MediaNews Group across the country and from different areas of the company. They were chosen from more than 500 applicants.

Jeff Jarvis, Jay Rosen and Emily Bell of Digital First Media’s Advisory Board – led by Editor-in-Chief Jim Brady – had the tough task of choosing 25 winners out of so many wonderful ideas.

Great ideas like Allison Barrett’s.

Allison, who works in sales at MediaNews Group, wants to help our employees re-connect with their communities through volunteerism.
Allison has a plan to use social media and a central data base to connect and help employees communicate their volunteer efforts. A win-win for us and the communities.

The Denver Post’s Jason Blevins wants to tell visually Colorado’s outdoor industry from high-country hiking to extreme skiing and whitewater rafting. The outdoors is not just an industry in Colorado it’s a way of life. Check out some of Jason’s “head cam” work here:

Omar Shadid is an accountant with MediaNews Group. Born and raised in the US, he is a first-generation Pakistani American. He’s a practicing Muslim and he is getting married this year. His is an arranged marriage. He has only met his wife twice and spoken with her for a total of 60 minutes. He wants to tell Americans about his Muslim culture from an American perspective.

Here’s what he plans to do:

“I plan to set up a column or online blog to load videos, pictures, and stories of my Muslim culture and my time leading up to the arranged marriage, as well as, life after the marriage. Many co-workers, friends, and neighbors are fascinated with the Muslim culture and there is no better way to experience the culture then a Muslim wedding with over 300 guests,” Omar told us.

The new ideaLab members will be equipped with the latest tools and the Company will provide them the time and money to experiment. Each member of the ideaLab will be equipped, initially, with a Smartphone, tablet and laptop.

The Company will carve out 10 hours a week from their regular jobs to allow them time to experiment with these tools and report back on how we can change our business for the better. And we will add an extra $500 per month to their pay.

Other than that – there are no rules. Just go play and come back and tell us how to run our business better.

Here are the winners:

Jason Blevins, Denver Post (newsroom
Jonathan Boho, Denver Post (designer)
Lauren Boyer, York Daily Record (newsroom)
Richard Chin, St. Paul Pioneer Press (designer)
Neil Devlin, Denver Post (newsroom)
Allison Barrett, MediaNews Group (advertising)
John Brewer, St. Paul Pioneer Press (newsroom)
Courtney Cashour, MediaOnePA (research)
Lisa Fernandez, San Jose Mercury News (newsroom)
Alex Fong, San Jose Mercury News (designer)
Aimee Heckel, Boulder Daily Camera (newsroom)
Dan Herman, Farmington Daily Times (presentation editor)
Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News (newsroom)
Michael McGowan, MediaNews Group (circulation)
Ned Oliver, Berkshire Eagle (photographer)
Thomas Peele, BANG (data)
RJ Sangosti, Denver Post (photographer)
Omar Shahid, MediaNews Group (accountant)
Jack Storrusten, LANG (advertising)
Zahira Torres, El Paso Times (newsroom)
Angela Woodall, Oakland Tribune (newsroom)
Marc Cabrera, Monterey County Herald (newsroom)
Gina Dvorak, LANG (multimedia)
Jason Halley, Chico Enterprise-Record (photographer)
Katie Murphy, Denver Post (advertising)

Congratulations to all the winners. Let the experiments begin.

Until next time. John.

21 thoughts on “Meet The Newest Members of the ideaLab

    • I am very excited to be a part of IdeaLab and to have the opportunity to work with all our amazing people at Digital First Media.

      Any input, advice, critiques, love, mild detest, interesting tidbits and so forth regarding the project you want to send is welcome. Please follow me on Twitter @tofallfromgrace or email me directly at

      Also, if you have people at your site you think I should speak with in order to make the “volunteer awesomeness project” (working title) even more amazing please let me know.

      DFM/MNG/JRC – thank you so much for this amazing opportunity! I would also like say a big thank you to Kristin Stork (@kristinstork) for the inspiration behind the whole proposal.


  1. Congrats to everyone! I’ll admit I am a bit disappointed there are some properties with no representation at all (that I know put forth candidates) and others with so much. There are eight from Denver (Post or MNG) and four from Bay Area (San Jose or BANG). That’s nearly half the group. With each market (and audience) being unique, I hope that doesn’t mean missed opportunities for those properties, and the chain as a whole.

  2. We were just talking about this today, wondering when submissions would be selected. Congratulations to all of the winners, I look forward to hearing about the progress and implementation successes!

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