5 Questions with The Lily: The Washington Post’s Bold Experiment for Millennial Women
Sometimes in the process of news gathering or carrying out coverage, a defining moment happens to a news agency or blog. Welcome to our new Beyond Bylines series: Five questions about the big stories you’re covering.
The first U.S. newspaper for and run by women was established in 1849.
The Washington Post is bringing it back to life with its new experimental site for millennial women, The Lily.
Launched in June 2017, the site is a first-of-its-kind project for The Post. Its mission is to empower and inform on of-the-moment stories that are important for its audience — calling attention to a diverse set of perspectives.
The Lily is “a place for the curious minded and for those who want to be heard,” it says, on the site. “Expect to feel uncomfortable. To agree and then passionately disagree.”
Its platform-specific storytelling is found on Medium, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Readers can also subscribe to a twice-weekly newsletter, called Lily Lines, to get highly-curated news delivered straight to their inbox.
I chatted over email with The Lily’s editor-in-chief and creative director Amy King, who pitched the site concept. Here’s what she had to say about The Post’s pop-up publication for women.
1. What drove the idea for The Lily? Why did The Post need this site right now?
I work on a team called Emerging News Products, and our goal is to reach new audiences. The Lily was started as a way to reach millennial women and deepen our engagement with this audience. Every day, The Post publishes articles about women or that elevate issues critical to women’s lives. With The Lily, we can provide even more visibility to these important stories by surfacing them for our audience across a number of social channels. We also offer original content.
2. The Lily has a very unique, bold design. What’s the inspiration or reasoning behind it?
The design is purposefully contrary to what people are used to seeing for this audience. There was a general sense on our team that women are tired of pink publications full of abbreviations and slang. Aesthetically, the goal is classic and striking. Editorially, we want to have a normal, intelligent conversation with our readers. We are reaching people in social feeds. In these streams of endless words and images, I knew it’d be necessary to create an instantly recognizable brand that stands out and people could come to trust. Both our visual and editorial voice were crafted to give people a reading experience they cannot find elsewhere.
3. How is the #MeToo conversation driving or changing your content plan?
In addition to the very straightforward discussion around high profile men abusing their power, we have tried really hard to examine sexual assault in places where people aren’t often looking. For example, we published a perspective on what it means that this movement has reached Iran. And soon, we’ll have an essay about sexual assault in nursing homes.
4. What’s the most important story The Lily has told so far?
It’s hard to choose just one story. We’ve written about mental health, sexual abuse and harassment, breast and ovarian cancer, being pregnant in the workplace, the pay gap and so many more important topics. A recent story that resonated with our audience is about women who redesigned the speculum, as it was originally designed by a man. We’ve had a story about female rebel soldiers reintegrating into society in Colombia. We’ve heard from inspiring women like Malala Yousafzai, Marley Dias, Shonda Rhimes, Lisa Ling, and Jessica Williams. Another reader favorite comes from cartoonist and illustrator Katie Wheeler, who draws a weekly comic for us with strong commentary on topics like sex education, body hair and equality in marriage.
5. What sets you apart from other digital news sites for women?
We pair high quality journalism with beautiful visuals — both are equally important in our mission. Our editorial voice is unique in this space. We don’t speak in trendy slang, abbreviations, or emoji. We banned the exclamation point. We are against hyperbolic language. We don’t want to look back in a few years and cringe at the way we were communicating with readers. We are direct and conversational, we do not pander or patronize.
Does your newsroom or blog have a great story to tell? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why we should ask you five questions next.
Anna Jasinski is senior manager of audience relations at PR Newswire and a former magazine journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @annamjasinski.