Introduction: What Design Means Now
As recently as five years ago, design was considered to be something handled by the graphics desk. In just the last few years, however, a tremendous shift has taken place; one can hardly enter a conversation about the future of journalism without hearing breathless references to the power of design thinking to transform newsrooms. But do we even know what design means when we’re not talking about graphic design? Do we actually know what design thinking is? And what does human-centered design have to do with any of this?
In this report, I will attempt to clarify what design means in a context useful for the journalism industry, why it’s important, and how various newsrooms around the country are using it. I will not, however, suggest that design is the salvation of journalism—there is no single panacea for the challenges the news industry faces. Rather, I will argue that design is an important ingredient in the production of high-quality journalism that invites people to engage, as well as a vital tool for tackling the seemingly intractable problems we must overcome as an industry.
Journalists need to be more active in building stories digitally, and I don’t see an incumbent process for doing that other than design. And I don’t just mean interactives. I mean, what should an article look like in three years? What do readers actually want? How do we do a live blog that actually makes sense? What products should we be developing? As we move from the print world to the digital world, I just don’t know another process other than design thinking that can help us thoughtfully answer these questions.
-Aron Pilhofer, interim director of digital,The Guardian