Brief 2: The News

Brief 2: The News

Chris Murphy · 15 June, 2020

In 2020, I ran a semester-long brief with my second year students at Belfast School of Art to explore what 'The News' might be.

I asked the students to reimagine the news from ground up, starting from zero and embracing the possibilities that a networked culture offers.

We were fortunate to be joined by Barry Pace, who joined us for a guest lecture via Zoom, to share his experience reimagining the news on a project working with The Guardian. *

The results – despite the COVID-19 crisis – were fantastic. I was incredibly proud of my students and what they achieved, despite the crisis, and I‘ll soon add examples, when I've secured their permission.

Taking 'The News' Further

In May, 2020 I had the first of a series of conversations with Lisa deBettencourt – co-founder of IxDA and founder of Forge Harmonic – that covered a lot of ground, not least:

  • design's role in relation to business (in response to First Principles);
  • design in a distributed society, how design is practiced and how it functions; and
  • the future of design education, in a post-lockdown world.

Following our first discussion, deBettencourt sent me the following as an email (which I have lightly edited and retouched). I've used it as the basis of a brief: 'More News'. I think this would make an interesting project for learners at The School of Design.

More News

Lisa deBettencourt:

One thought that’s been rattling in my brain in the past couple of hours is regarding your assignment to your student to ‘rethink news’ and the sketches you showed me. Great work!

I’d love to up-level that. What if your students rethought news at the systemic level, not just at a delivery and consumption level? Meaning: How can we redesign the ecosystem of news? For example:…

  • What is ‘news’ (types, flavours, variety)?
  • How can it be gathered in a sustainable way?
  • What about journalists? How can they be properly incentivised, supported, promoted and encouraged? What tools do they need to have to sustainably do their jobs? How can they most effectively get the truth from source to consumer?
  • Who pays for the news? How do they pay? What are innovative business models? What’s the future of advertising? etc., etc., etc..

Obviously this is a massive undertaking for a thought experiment, but even just a slice of it would make for an interesting design project.

It aligns with the idea of moving designers from labourers to thought × business partners. Think at the systemic and business level. Rethink the environment, challenge the status quo, and see what things develop out of the new context.


Industry Partner

We have an opportunity to rethink design briefs in The School of Design by working with industry partners to provide a more realistic lens through which we view project work.

This brief is wide open and I've yet to identify an industry partner. If this might interest you – and you’re based within the world of journalism – feel free to contact me on Twitter: I'm @fehler and my DMs are open.

* Interestingly – and with the benefit of hindsight, fortuitously – we had started embracing Zoom as a means of widening the guest lecture pool before the pandemic. These early experiments, using Zoom and other tools, underpinned our eventual move towards a fully decentralised system when the pandemic hit.


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