Professional journalist and computer scientist Jonathan Stray argues in this thoughtful blog post that journalism and news organisations should create products to better support civic culture and “the people who are actually changing the world”. He looks at the existing state of product design in journalism and how it could be improved:
Newspaper stories online and streaming video on a tablet are not those tools. They are transplantations of what was possible with paper and television (…) Much of the ongoing future-of-journalism discussion focuses on how reporting needs to change, and rightly so. But that analysis stops short of the user, and how journalism is actually used – or could be used.
Digital news product design has so far mostly been about emulation of previous media. Newspaper web sites and apps look like newspapers. “Multimedia” journalism has mostly been about clicking somewhere to get slideshows and videos. This is a little like the dawn of TV news, when anchors read wire copy on air. Digital media gives us an explosion of product design possibilities, but the envisioned interaction modes have so far stayed mostly the same.
News and journalism “products” need to consider who will be using them and what those users’ expectations will be – news outlets’ current perception of what they are offering and to whom is not matched by users’ behaviour on their sites, the post explains.