ONA hosts free design camp at UNC Chapel Hill

By on February 10, 2014

The Online News Association hosted a free design camp, or “dCamp,” at the University of Chapel Hill on Feb. 8, bringing together more than 50 journalists, designers, developers, academics and students to imagine new ways to create news for mobile devices. This design camp — part of the larger ONACamp program which offers free, intensive digital journalism training, thanks to funding from the Gannett Foundation — was the first in the series with a specific focus on mobile.

Nineteen leaders from the ONA community worked with local participants to solve problems newsrooms face delivering mobile news, using human-centered design to guide the process.


Participants were placed on teams that included a mix of editorial, design and development experts to take advantage of a diverse range of talent. Reggie Murphy, Principal Consultant at Electronic Ink, introduced design thinking at the beginning of the day (presentation), and used the philosophy to guide the teams throughout the workshop. Teams worked together to define their design challenges.


Each team brainstormed dozens of ideas about the problems they looked to solve. Weather emerged as an early theme for a few teams, since a number of participants drove up from Atlanta, which had faced a debilitating winter storm recently, and local Triangle residents had a few snow days the week before ONACamp. After a healthy discussion, groups spent time narrowing down their ideas.


Each team created prototypes of their projects, which included mobile applications, product layers for CMS, boot camps, check lists for newsrooms, mobile platforms and more. After rapid prototyping, each group paired with another to present their mockups and get initial feedback, which they used to iterate and improve their designs.


Teams presented their projects to the entire group at the end of the day, taking more feedback for future iterations. Each team put together a plan for next steps and implementation so they could continue to work on their new ideas within and without their newsrooms. In addition to a number of workable ideas for newsrooms, participants left ONA dCamp: NC with a new skill set: how to apply human-centered design to new projects in their newsrooms.


Cory Bergman, Breaking News
Carrie Brown, University of Memphis
Kim Bui, Digital First Media
Alastair Coote, New York Times
Nick Diakopoulos, Tow Center for Digital Journalism
Gabriel Florit, Boston Globe
David Ho, Wall Street Journal
Etan Horowitz, CNN
Ramla Mahmood, SB Nation
Pete Karl, Upstatement
Damon Kiesow, Boston Globe
Suzanne Levison, McClatchy Interactive
Joey Marburger, Washington Post
Grey Montgomery, McClatchy Interactive
Miranda Mulligan, Knight Lab
Katie Park, Washington Post
Emily Ramshaw, Texas Tribune
Will Sullivan, Broadcasting Board of Governors
Eric Ulken, Seattle Times