Titled “Human-Centered Journalism: Designing for Engagement,” the discussion focused on the idea that the right design for a news project can bring the community into the conversation.
There was, for instance, quite a bit of talk about The Boston Globe’s “68 Blocks” series, which included multimedia elements such as Instagrams and self-shot videos by teenagers in Bowdoin-Geneva, a poor, mostly African-American neighborhood that was the subject of the series.
Despite those interactive touches, “68 Blocks” was controversial within some elements of the community. I can’t speak for them, but the general complaint seemed to be that they resented outsiders coming in and observing them as though they were exotic specimens.
One of the panelists, Kenneth Bailey of the Design Studio for Social Innovation, put his finger on a possible problem when he said that too many journalists see themselves as “literary types” rather than fostering relationships with the communities they cover.
Another, Alvin Chang, a data journalist who was involved in “68 Blocks,” said, “The people we are covering are not necessarily the people who read the Globe.”