Maryland Institute College of Art

Student Work

The Future of Journalism

The field of journalism is in deep doodoo. Print newspapers are shutting down nationwide in a shrinking economy—and they were already in big trouble before the recession even took hold. Journalism programs at universities are being asked, “Why even teach journalism?” while hundreds of writers from magazines and newspapers are going home with pink slips every week. The old model of using advertising revenues to pay for content is collapsing. Meanwhile, delivering the news online has never been successfully monetized.

Some people argue that a free society needs journalism in order to educate the electorate and limit the abuse of power. A society without news is both stupid and venal. (Maybe we are there already.) Radical proposals include using public funding to maintain the news media system. Many commentators, however, argue that the news media, like the car industry, should be allowed to fail. If the public doesn’t want to pay for information on the free market, then let it go. Something new will surely take its place.

Could an online community for journalists help the industry evolve and survive in a new form? In this project, designers will present experimental concepts to visiting artist Matt Stinchcomb, v.p. for communications at, the hugely successful on-line community that connects crafters directly with consumers. Addressing Matt as a potential investor, we will present him with a series of proposed features generated by a community web site that could be likened to “Etsy for journalists.”

Each student will develop a concept for an online application. Express your concept in two phases: first, a sequential presentation explaining the idea through slides/storyboards; and second, a sequence of screens that demonstrates the basic user experience. Final projects will be posted to the GD MFA web site.

Below are some “seeds” for possible ideas. You may choose to develop one of these ideas or come up with something completely different. Your concept can be a realistic product idea or an ironic commentary on the current state of the world. Dark humor is welcome!

Getting News to People

Web Crawl
What if every time you opened your web browser, there was a news crawl along the bottom of the screen? Every time a user clicks through to a story, a micro payment goes to the journalist who wrote it. (Payment could come from a federal fund or from the consumer.)
Retail Journalism
Currently, Google generates contextual ads automatically in relation to the content on a blog or other web site. What if news stories popped up instead of ads on shopping sites, Facebook, porn sites, and other preferred destinations? You could be shopping for a car and be offered news stories about the auto industry or alternative energy; you could be updating your Facebook status and be offered news stories about political figures; you could be shopping for airline tickets and see news stories about global crises.
Journalism for Pay
What if instead of readers paying for what they read, they would actually earn their own microcredits for reading the news?
Personal Journalist
The wealthy could hire their own “personal journalist” along with their personal trainer, who would create customized daily media diet.

Helping Journalists

In addition to thinking about new ways to deliver the news, you might think about services for journalists or ways that they can network and help each other.

  • 13-Step Program for recovering journalists.
  • Retraining. Could journalists be retrained to do something else, such as graphic design or high school teaching?

Required Reading!

Read these articles to familiarize yourself with the issues:

Models/Resources/What’s Out There


Due March 30

Create a brief PDF presentation, based on this Conceptual Design methodology. Include the following slides:

  1. overview with project title and brief description
  2. user description
  3. storyboard of user experience
  4. prototype of sample screen
  5. shortcomings of design
  6. benefits of design

Due April 6

Presentation for Matt Stinchcomb. 3-6 screen designs that demonstrate your idea in a clear visual fashion, showing a sequence of actions a user might take. Add captions or bubble for further explanation as needed. Develop your screen designs in Illustrator or InDesign so that we can easily create high-resolution output for possible publication in our “Design Thinking” book.
Lecture by Matt Stinchcomb in Falvey Hall at noon.

Due April 20

Present work to guest artist Debbie Millman.

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