I’ve spent the last month looking for news organizations that are experimenting with innovative approaches to journalism. My questions was a simple one: Tell me which newsrooms are embracing a more citizen-centric approach to doing journalism. I was especially interested in newsrooms experimenting with a “design thinking” approach to journalism. Born out of the tech industry, applying design thinking to journalism sees the “audience” as the user and “journalism” as a product that is created through an iterative process of observation, experimentation and prototype construction. I talked with (read: emailed) some of the top minds in the nation on the issue. They have all shared their favorites (see the list of contributors at the bottom of this post).

The results yielded some intriguing examples, but they also resulted in a bit of a surprise. Most of the experts I consulted with were hard-pressed to identify a news organization that had completely embraced a citizen-centric approach to journalism.

Peggy Holman, co-founder of the group Journalism That Matters, told me in an email that public media appears to be out in front when it comes to engaging with the community. She said that at last fall’s Experience Engagement event in Portland, Oregon, attendees nominated the same few news organizations as ones leading the way in producing citizen-engaged journalism.

Jennifer Brandel, co-founder and CEO of the audience-driven platform Hearken, agreed in an email exchange that a citizen-centric newsroom may be hard to find, but said she remains excited and optimistic about the future of journalism.

Skim through this list of innovative approaches to journalism and you’ll likely be optimistic as well.


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Ashley Alvarado of KPCC created the Public Insight Network.

“One River, Many Stories” is a journalism, media and storytelling project and resource hub for journalists, educators, and citizens to foster deeper conversations about our community. This University of Minnesota Duluth Journalism program project is funded in part by the Knight Foundation Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

St. Louis River, April 2016: See what happens when journalists and storytellers in one region turn their attention to one topic.

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