- Ashley Alexander
Ryan Kanner comes from a long line of programmers. Immediately after graduation, he began working for marketing agencies, building websites. Now, at 25 years old, he is a WordPress Developer for Digital First Media in Denver, Colorado. Ryan is also one of News Media Alliance’s Rising Stars.
His grandfather learned programming language during technical school and his mother followed suit as the first female programmer on her team in New York. Ryan had always shown an interest and at 16 years old, he started working with a family friend, doing grunt work on some basic websites. Quickly after Ryan moved to Denver, he connected with Digital First Media and knew he wanted to be a part of it.
There a few reasons Ryan left marketing for news media. First, the scale of news media drew him in; he had never dealt with reach in the hundreds of thousands. Additionally, realizing the type of high-scale technology partners (such as WordPress) at Digital First Media made him excited to work there.
The leadership at Digital First Media drew him in as well. He could tell how committed the leaders were and how much they were at the forefront of what they were doing. Ryan and his colleagues are encouraged by the organization to push the boundaries and experiment frequently. He loves how engineer-driven it is and the many opportunities to work with new technology.
“We really are digital first,” Ryan says. “As a developer, I get to decide the things I want to be working on in addition to overarching goals.”
Every day takes a different shape. As a part of the Content Management System team at Digital First Media, he is responsible for transitioning all the websites they work with onto the WordPress platform. Additionally, he makes sure that the technology in the newsroom is working to its best ability. Regardless of the day’s tasks, Ryan is always working with technology; from website setup to fixing bugs to adding new features.
Recently, Ryan was looking through the company’s code base and realized it could be improved for better performance. He says he spent about a week and a half rewriting the necessary part of the code base. But it paid off. After he rewrote it, the program was 200 to 300 times quicker.
“It’s one of those things that nobody will ever really know or even see, but I sure know it,” says Ryan regarding that code.
He is often asked about his young age. He says that being young is an advantage, but his familiarity and comfort with programming is what really gave him ease.
“Never be afraid to be the youngest person in the room. I’ve been the youngest person working on my team…just about everywhere I’ve worked,” says Ryan. “Use the people around you who do have a ton of experience.”
He says never hesitate to share your own opinion as a young person, but remember to respect others’ opinions as well. For example, his boss has been in the industry for over 25 years and Ryan constantly uses him as a tool. When wanting to implement anything new, he knows his boss has the best advice about what will and won’t work in the industry.
As far as the industry goes, Ryan admits he may be a little biased, but he sees the future of news media going digital.
“Just seeing the technology that is being built, there are a lot of great things indicating news media going digital,” he says.
He thinks it’s possible that artificial intelligence will be introduced soon and it will be able to figure out trends, do research and personalize the news industry. Ryan believes the news media industry will grow with technology and with its readers.