Listening as a designer, not a journalist, helped me look deeper

“I don’t have time for the news.”

This is something I’ve heard over and over again this quarter at Stanford. People value their time, their time is constrained, and news takes a back seat to other needs.

If I listen to this as a journalist, it sounds pretty dismal. But I’m learning to listen as a design thinker, which encourages me to look deeper.

I’m in the middle of my second class at the Hasso Plattner Institute for Design, Redesigning the News Ecosystem. It’s pushing me to not only be empathetic to the needs people say they have, but the needs people don’t even know they have.

Taking this “Super Mario leap” of making inferences through insights has been an uncomfortable step for someone whose job it is to focus on facts. But this is where the real opportunities lie.

Ideas start to emerge by connecting the dots with what people do say are their top priorities. These include education, learning about the world, and having reliable information about things that affect their health, wealth, and wellbeing.

So, instead of tackling something people are fighting against (not enough time in the day), perhaps we should be helping them see journalism as part of the goals they’re actively working toward.

That’s a challenge I’m definitely up for.

Developing this new perspective has given even more purpose to my JSK Journalism Challenge, which could be one source for the creative ideas we need to get there.