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Manuscript deadline
01 June 2021

Cover image - Digital Journalism

Digital Journalism

Special Issue Editor(s)

Tanja Aitamurto, University of Illinois, Chicago
[email protected]

Eddy Borges-Rey, Northwestern University in Qatar
[email protected]

Nicholas Diakopoulos, Northwestern University
[email protected]

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Design + Journalism

Broadly defined, design refers to the process or outcome of producing specifications for the creation of man-made artifacts, such as products, services, and processes (Shneiderman et al, 2016). In journalism, design has traditionally been understood as applying primarily to the visual structure, style, and overall presentation of news information (Cooke, 2005). But sociotechnical understandings of journalism (Anderson, 2013) highlight a broader conceptualization of the role that design can play in inscribing technological actants with the goals, aims, values, politics, and biases of humans (Lewis and Westlund, 2015; Diakopoulos, 2019). The values and norms of journalism will not only shape designs, but those designs will in turn shape journalism.

The impacts of sociotechnical design can be felt in all aspects of journalism, from audience consumption and professional practice to press autonomy (Ananny, 2018). It is therefore crucial to understand the role that design plays in shaping the rich set of relationships in the journalistic field—to audiences, platforms, technical artifacts, the law, and so on—and in turn how those relationships constrain journalistically relevant design. Design philosophies, often devised in industrialized societies from the Global North, are embedded in technologies and content consumed in the Global South, drastically shaping and re-shaping the cultural and social contours of societies with distinctive geo-politics that may demand their own context-specific designs. A design lens will afford both new avenues for criticism of the status quo, and for the deliberate and intentional envisioning of how sociotechnical journalistic systems could or should operate in the future across and between diverse contexts. The space between journalism and design opens up an exciting array of questions:

  • How can design methods, perspectives, and contributions facilitate a deeper—and more critical—understanding of the sociotechnical contexts of journalism around the world?
  • What can design insights bring to the creation of innovative technologies and processes for news production practices, distribution methods, audience engagement strategies, business models, algorithms, metrics, and user interfaces that support and align with (or challenge) journalistic goals?
  • How can design methods and processes contribute to journalism’s goals for a more inclusive, equal and informed society, and more broadly how can we further examine journalism’s role in shaping design?
  • In what ways might co-design and design re-appropriation act as a counterforce to empower citizens?
  • How might journalistic norms and practices (e.g. accuracy, impartiality, and autonomy) affect design methods and processes, and conversely, how might design insights affect journalistic norms and practices?

In the last decade design approaches and lenses have increasingly been applied in a number of ways in journalism (Chaplin, 2016; Doherty, 2017), from understanding how users interact with news information via user interfaces (Anderson and Borges-Rey, 2019), to specifying design requirements and implications for the implementation of tools to support journalists (Diakopoulos, 2020), evaluating tools or technologies which can inform future designs or understandings of journalistic practice (Thurman, Doerr, and Kunert, 2017; Schifferes et al 2014; Park et al, 2016), acting as a methodological approach for teaching and imagining the future of journalism (Angus and Doherty, 2015; Doherty and Worthy, 2020), and as a lens through which to consider the deliberate incorporation of journalistic values into the technological apparatus surrounding journalism (Aitamurto et al, 2019; Diakopoulos, 2019a; Helberger, 2019).

Inspired by these exciting questions and previous efforts, and recognizing the need for a venue to coalesce such a multidisciplinary endeavor, this special issue of Digital Journalism invites scholars and practitioners of diverse backgrounds to explore the rich intersection of design and journalism. We hope to expand the space for design orientations and perspectives in the scholarship on digital journalism by engaging work from Computer and Data Science; UX, Interface, Graphic and Human-Computer Interaction Design; Information Technology; Platform Studies; Critical Data, Algorithm, Code, and Software Studies; Computational Social Sciences; or Philosophy. We are therefore open to a variety of contributions, from theoretically informed empirical studies, to well-argued conceptual or critical essays, to artifactual design studies oriented towards advancing practice or scholarship (Aakhus, 2007). Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Applications of design approaches and perspectives in journalism, such as user-centered design, participatory design, interaction design, user experience design, service design, value-sensitive design, design fiction, design justice, etc.
  • Examinations of the role of citizen journalism, civil society, third sector and other interlopers and non-legacy actors, and their use of design to incorporate diverse social and cultural perspectives, to counter mainstream news narratives and discourse, and to challenge patriarchal and colonial inflected technologies.
  • Articulations of design requirements (e.g. contextual constraints, affordances or social/normative expectations) to support journalistic activity, such as news gathering, presentation, curation, and distribution, or to support journalistic values and norms, such as accuracy, autonomy, transparency, and impartiality
  • The integration of design thinking, design literacy, visual intelligence, complexity theory, design ethics, and other epistemological and methodological approaches to design education in journalism practice.
  • Conceptually and empirically informed designs and evaluations of applications, tools, services, workflows, or systems relevant to a range of journalistic contexts such as news production, distribution, audience engagement, business, algorithms, metrics, interfaces, and so on.
  • Critical examinations of the design of journalistic products, services, and systems, or of the role of design in encoding, amplifying, perpetuating, or resisting racial, ethnic, gender, identity and other biases or invisibilities in media systems.
  • Changes in the attitudes, mindsets and thought processes of newsworkers; as well as transformations in newsroom logics and routines prompted by design implementation.

Looking to Publish your Research?

We aim to make publishing with Taylor & Francis a rewarding experience for all our authors. Please visit our Author Services website for more information and guidance, and do contact us if there is anything we can help with!

Submission Instructions

Proposals should include an abstract of 500 words (not including references) as well as a full list of author(s) with affiliation(s) and abbreviated bio(s). Please upload your proposal as one file (PDF) with your names clearly stated on the first page. Submit your proposal using this form (https://tinyurl.com/designplusjournalism) by January 15, 2021 (anywhere on earth time). Notifications of proposal acceptance will be sent to the email you provide in the form by February 5, 2021. Finally, authors or accepted proposals are expected to submit their original article for full blind review in accordance with the journal’s peer-review procedure by June 1, 2021. Article submissions should target a length of 7,000-9,000 words.

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