Journalism + Design is a hub for journalism’s vanguard. It is a place for playful experimentation, where new forms and unexpected strategies emerge.
We believe that design methodologies and systems thinking are key to untangling the complex problems of 21st century journalism. We also believe that journalism is the bedrock of democracy, and journalism students represent the future of that democracy. We created the resources on this site so that educators everywhere can introduce these ideas to their students.
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At Journalism + Design, we believe that students need more than technical skills. They need mindsets for embracing complexity and confidently navigating the unknown.
The design process is a problem-solving tool that encourages playfulness, collaboration, and experimentation. We use this method to help students build a deep understanding of their audience and its needs, to quickly prototype and test new ideas, and to thoughtfully assess their work.
J+D’s design process includes seven steps: research, report, synthesize, make, get feedback, refine, reflect. The steps aren’t always linear. Sometimes you need to go back and research more, report more, or refine more. But all together, these steps provide students with a flexible framework for approaching storytelling in a comprehensive, human-centered way.
Here at J+D, we’re also big fans of something called “systems thinking.” Systems thinking is a mindset for understanding complex problems by looking at the big picture.
Take local crime, for example. If you look beyond the committing of unlawful acts, and consider instead the litany of factors that contribute to the local crime rate—unemployment, a lack of education, incarceration rates, recidivism rates, poverty, access to guns, and so on—you can start to understand the many forces that fuel it. When you look at all those forces together, you’re thinking in terms of systems.
We believe this mindset can help journalists confront complex issues and better serve their communities. Even when writing short news stories on tight deadlines, journalists can use systems thinking to offer readers a more holistic take on an issue.
To learn more about systems thinking and journalism, including the workshops that we offer to help journalists develop a systems thinking mindset, check out our information packet.