Emily Lytle

Emily Lytle joins RJI innovation team as Innovation in Focus editor, will work with community newsrooms near and far to develop practical tools and solutions

Emily Lytle, formerly a reporter covering Sussex County, Delaware for Gannett newspapers in the state, will join the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the Missouri School of Journalism as the Innovation in Focus editor. Lytle will start on Jan. 3.

As the newest member of RJI’s innovation team, Lytle will work both with students in the School of Journalism’s professional newsrooms and with community news organizations across the country to develop new and innovative solutions to industry challenges. These efforts will be documented in RJI’s ongoing Innovation in Focus series, which turns the experimentation and iteration at the center of the role into convenient breakdowns and tip-filled resources for those who want to implement similar tools and ideas in their newsrooms.

“I am thrilled to have Emily joining our innovation team,” said Kat Duncan, director of innovation at RJI. “Her passion for community-centered news, excitement to try new ideas and experience working with and for local newsrooms make her a great fit for this role. I look forward to seeing how she grows the Innovation in Focus series as a useful, dedicated resource that community-centered newsrooms across the country can count on.”

It’s a role that seems tailor-made for Lytle, who has seen firsthand the need for newsrooms to be adaptable and open to new approaches in an era of rapid change in the industry.

“Six months into my first job as a community reporter, Gatehouse merged with Gannett and everything shifted,” she said. “I had the opportunity to do more in-depth enterprise stories that I wasn’t able to do at a smaller paper with fewer resources, and I was able to help come up with TikToks and Instagram reels…I was able to see what innovative ideas can do.”

Lytle is also passionate about another aspect of the job: helping to revitalize local, community journalism by developing solutions that, rather than being generalized into oblivion with a one-size-fits-all approach, are catered to the needs and difficulties that are relevant to small news organizations. For her, it’s an extension of her work as a reporter in providing a platform for those who are sometimes left out of the conversation in mainstream news outlets.

“I loved talking to people, hearing their stories and amplifying the voices of farmers who don’t often get to talk to the press,” she said.

Moving to Columbia will be a change for Lytle, who grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania and earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C. But she said her love for storytelling gives her an immediate kinship with the J-School students she will be working with.

“It will be so inspiring to work with students who are so passionate about what they’re doing while they are going to school at the same time,” she said. “I’m looking forward to not only seeing what I can bring to the table at RJI, but to helping show students what they can do for local journalism. It’s going to be fantastic.”

Lytle joins Duncan and Will Lager, senior editor and project manager, as the third member of RJI’s innovation team, which together builds free, accessible and open-source resources, programs, workshops and tools for and with journalists.

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