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Design Thinking: Why does it matter and what does it mean?


Materials Evaluated:

Last week, one of my classes (Storytelling with Emerging Media) evaluated the typical "Design Thinking" method:

The group I was placed in tried to find a problem that all of us were experiencing. This lead to our question being: How can we make campus dining programs more accessible to students with busy schedules?

We then brainstormed possibilities of how we could address this problem and so on, and so on.

This exercise reiterated to me something I hadn't known about myself until recently: I am a visual learner. During this process, we had one of those large sticky pad boards, markers, and sticky notes. And while Jennifer Brandel criticizes "those who’ve decided it’s all post-it notes and bullshit" notion of Design Thinking, I've found it has been an important aspect of the process for myself.

Designer Milton Glaser also criticizes the overly used comparison of designers to artists. Glaser said that individuals should try to understand that art has one purpose and design has another. Even though designers have similar tools as artists, “Design is the process of going from an existing condition to a preferred one,” said Glaser.

So if design isn't art but design thinking is being applied to new fields and I feel that design thinking utilizes a lot of the methods I began using upon figuring out I'm a visual learner.... what is any of this even about?

Design thinking has become a popular method among journalists who are interested in boosting creativity and better engaging their audiences, according to Anna Li, commentator for Poynter. The Voice of San Diego dug into residents’ concerns and found out that by assigning a reporter to a community and solely report on the concerns of that community, the Voice of San Diego reporters had not previously been reporting on issues that mattered to the locals. “It turns out, our coverage for years had been focused on things that didn’t seem to matter all that much to even active San Diego residents,” Andrew Donohue, senior editor, wrote in a Nieman Journalism Lab article.

So what does this case study tell us? That journalists need to include more of the design thinking process along their journey of a story.

As Brandel suggests in her article, "The bulk of news stories get created without the customers (the audience) meaningfully involved in the decisions that shape the product (the story)".

Journalism needs to engage with the consumers, otherwise it will continue down a trend of being a "dying medium" even though technological advancements are increasing higher than they ever have been in the past. If we, as journalists, want to tell the stories of others, we need to create with the audience rather than just for them.

As a current journalism major, I have found this concept of comparing the traditional journalism story cycle with that of a design thinking process absolutely fascinating. Especially since many of the emerging medias incorporate the design thinking process in their 'updates' and adaptations.

Look at all the big corporations: Facebook, Google, Apple. They all incorporate the design thinking method to their advancements in products. And while I'm not necessarily keen on viewing journalism as a business nor operating as one, I think implementing this model for production as a tool in the journalism story cycle would benefit both the journalists and the audience. And as an aspiring journalist, I am interested in exploring ways to do this.

#designthinking #criticalresponses #journalism