Katie Zhu

Product Manager and Engineer
Medium

Twitter: @ktzhu
LinkedIn: ktzhu
Medium: @katie

Katie is a product manager and engineer at Medium. A journalist by training, she considers words her primary means of expression, but also has held technical roles at both media and technology companies. Katie believes in media and technology’s ability to better the world around us, and is passionate about building products to bridge perspectives, enlighten, incite action and introduce people to one another. She cares deeply about the web and its compelling promise that anyone can be a publisher. Her experience ranges from backend development to frontend design and implementation. She has previously worked on the interactive team at The New York Times, the visuals team at NPR, and the product team at GOOD. She was named one of the first Mic 50, was a finalist for the OpenNews fellowship and an inaugural AP-Google scholar. Katie graduated from Northwestern University with majors in computer science and journalism.

Recent Work

Medium’s Letters feature

Prior to this project, there was no way for a publication on Medium to communicate directly with its readers. We felt there was an opportunity with email newsletters to capture some of its potential not only to engage readers and help better serve publishers on Medium, but also to provide a new channel for readers to consume stories. Today, any publication on Medium gets a built-in, plug and play newsletter as part of their experience on the platform. Newsletters are sent to all the followers of a publication, and every letter is in fact a post itself, so they can be recommended, highlighted, responded to, shared and have lives of their own.

What distinguishes Medium Letters from other standalone newsletter services is the network. Because publications can be followed, Letters have a greater potential to be seen and resurfaced down the line—rather than sitting in an inbox. And because they are a special type of post, readers can use the Responses feature on Medium to respond to Letters and have a conversation with the publication editors or other subscribers. This enhances the community around a newsletter, by allowing subscribers to connect with each other, and lays the foundation for experimentation with premium membership models. We launched Letters back in June 2015, and we’ve seen their value to users and publishers continue to increase. For example, Matter used Letters to kick off Rachel Syme’s SELFIE book, published entirely on Medium. Ghost Boat, one of the 2016 ASME nominees, used Letters throughout their investigation to send updates and request readers to help out with reporting and get involved with the project.