This article details the benefits and challenges of Insight Journalism, a community engagement and research methodology developed by the interdisciplinary Bespoke project. Based in two under-resourced urban neighbourhoods in North West England, Bespoke combined community media with participatory digital design by supporting local residents to create a series of 'old' and 'new' media outputs that were exhibited locally and used within an innovative design process. The digital designs inspired by the journalism were then built by the Bespoke team and deployed within the local area, where Insight Journalists evaluated their reception. Based on our experiences, in this article, we argue that Insight Journalism can provide a vital space for exploring salient civic and social issues, but must be understood as a process of building relationships and competencies, as well as a set of products including the mediated stories and digital designs that resulted from ongoing engagement. © 2013 Intellect Ltd Article.
Viewpoint is a public voting device developed to allow residents in a disadvantaged community to make their voices heard through a simple, lightweight interaction. This was intended to open a new channel of communication within the community and increase community members' perception of their own efficacy. Local elected officials and community groups were able to post questions on devices located in public spaces, where residents could vote for one of two responses. Question authors were subsequently required to post a response indicating any actions to be taken. Following a two-month trial, we present our experiences and contribute guidelines for the design of public democracy tools and dimensions impacting their effectiveness, including credibility, efficacy and format.
We describe the process of insight journalism, in which local amateur journalists were used to generate unique insights into the digital needs of a community. We position this as a means for communities to represent themselves to designers, both as a method of designing community technologies and as a first step towards supporting innovation at a local level. To demonstrate insight journalism, we present two case studies of community technologies that were directly inspired, informed and evaluated by journalistic content. Based on this experience, we evaluate the role that insight journalism can play in designing for communities, the particular characteristics that it lends to the design process and how it might be employed to support sustainable community innovation.