Ryan Thornburg | Executive Director

[email protected]

B.A. Journalism and Political Science, UNC-Chapel Hill

M.A. Political Management, George Washington University

Ryan Thornburg joined the Reese News Lab as its executive director in 2017.

Before joining the School of Media and Journalism in 2007, Thornburg spent a decade in leadership positions in online newsrooms, mostly working on national and international news at The Washington Post.

With funding from the Knight Foundation, Google and the National Science Foundation, he develops tools and techniques that use data to lower the cost and increase the quality of local journalism. He is also a part of UNC’s Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media.

He is the author of a 2011 textbook called Producing Online News and is a frequent writer about the role of emerging technology in political campaigns.

In addition to his leadership of the Reese News Lab, Thornburg teaches a course in data-driven reporting.

Steven King | Chief Innovation Officer


[email protected]

B.A. Photojournalism and New Media, Western Kentucky University

M.A. Internet Communication, University of Liverpool

Steven King is an assistant professor of Interactive and Multimedia Journalism at UNC’s School of Media and Journalism, where he leads courses in interactive story-telling, human centered design, and design and development for mobile apps as well as for virtual reality.

King is the former Director of Video at The Washington Post. He led a team of video journalists and video editors, creating multimedia stories and new business models to make the medium profitable for the paper. He also served as editor of innovations at washingtonpost.com, where he pioneered new forms of storytelling and generated millions of dollars in new revenue for the company.

In 2014, King received the Knight Prototype Grant for his startup, Filmsync, a synchronized second-screen app. He is developing 360-degree video technology for media and government use.

Kate Sheppard | Faculty Fellow


B.A., Journalism and Politics, Ithaca College

M.A., Media Entrepreneurship, American University

Kate Sheppard joined Reese News Lab as a faculty fellow in Spring 2018 and teaches “MEJO 463: News Lab: Creating Tomorrow’s News Products.” She is a teaching associate professor in the School of Media and Journalism and a senior enterprise editor at HuffPost, leading the environment and economy teams. She has spent most of her career working in nonprofit and investigative news, and has a particular interest in developing sustainable business models for and facilitating audience engagement with news. She is a former board member for the Society of Environmental Journalists and current board member for Street Sense, Washington, D.C.’s newspaper for and by people experiencing homelessness.

Gary Kayye | Faculty Fellow


B.A., UNC-Chapel Hill

Gary Kayye joined Reese News Lab as a faculty fellow in Spring 2018 and teaches “MEJO 570: The Branding of Me” and “MEJO 477: New Media Technologies” in the Lab. He is also the founder of Kayye Consulting, a technology consulting company, and currently serves as president and CEO of rAVe [Publications], a publishing and digital strategy and communications company that he founded in 2003.

Prior to that, he served as the vice president of sales and marketing for Extron and an executive vice president at AMX Corporation.

He has either assisted or helped create a number of branding campaigns for dozens of tech companies (including brands such as Cisco, NEC, HP, InFocus, Sony and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and has served as an expert witness in branding court cases.