Recap: DesignMeets… NewsMedia


We celebrated our twentieth DesignMeets with an enormous cake and an esteemed panel of news media experts on May 28 at Mars Discovery District.

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More important than the baked goods, however, was our discussion on the news. With rapidly developing technologies and an unprecedented access to information, we asked: how can design thinking help journalists and newsrooms connect audiences with their content in this state of flux?

The Speakers

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John McKenna (above left), the Executive Producer of TV News at CHCH, knows audiences need credible news outlets to verify stories and filter through the internet’s endless chatter. He suggests organizations develop a niche area of expertise. His station, for example, is the only local news channel in Hamilton. “It’s finding that thing that you can do deeper and better than everyone else,” he says.

The Globe and Mail’s Digital Design Director Craig Saila (above right) understands that with infinite options available, readers don’t want to see The Globe’s old format adapted for newer media. “How do we design the system of news?” he asks, especially when traditional news organizations no longer control the various media channels. “It’s a huge point of revolution,” he says. “And the design challenge is just epic.”

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Spencer Walsh (above left) is an Executive Producer at CBCNews.ca. Last year, he and his team built a mobile app for audiences across the country—the final iteration needed to highlight both national and local news. However, negative feedback on the App Store reminded Walsh that we don’t create in a vacuum; we create for live audiences.

Meanwhile, journalist John Lorinc (above right) notes how his profession has changed since the late 1980s. Though, he insists some key functions remain. “New journalism has shown the great potential to integrate the best of the digital world with old style reporting,” he says. You can’t rely only on the internet—storytelling is at the heart of journalism and the best stories come from going out into the field and interviewing interesting individuals.

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One-on-one discussions are also important to St. Joseph Media Vice President of Digital Duncan Clark (above). When trying to innovate, media outlets rarely think about what change actually means. “We end up looking towards changing things, not in what we do, but how things look,” he says. For him, conversations are the starting point towards relearning the meaning of news value: to gathering good stories and learning what users want.

The Panel Discussion

DesignMeets… NewsMedia’ concluded with a panel discussion focusing on journalism’s shifting landscape and its continued sustainability. Just as the BBC’s Future of News report says, “In this bustling environment, there is less news and more noise.” How can news organizations cut through this clutter to design better experiences for their users and their reporters? Despite the massive upheaval, all of our speakers reiterated one point: a journalist’s job description remains stable.

Yes, the toolkit has changed—and in many ways improved—but the role of finding, interpreting and delivering meaningful stories is still relevant today. Audiences want quality content; they want news from credible and verified sources. The challenge now is for traditional news organizations to capture and engage users in a technologically driven market while still staying true to themselves.

Special thanks to our speakers and event sponsors. See more photos from this event on Flickr

Stay tuned for an in depth UX opinion piece on the changing landscape of Journalism and News Media on the Pivot blog.