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Design-thinking bootcamps for local news

February 6th, 2018

Local news has never been more important. It’s the bedrock of the news industry, both keeping institutions honest and keeping local communities engaged, informed citizens. But the economics of local news is increasingly challenging, and it can be hard for local newsrooms to devote resources to thinking about new ways of storytelling and connecting to audiences in a mobile-first age.

To help local newsrooms learn important skills to get new ideas and products off the ground, we’re launching a series of design-thinking bootcamps tailored to local news with Matter Ventures, a media start-up accelerator, and supported by the News Media Alliance. In total, Matter will hold four tuition-free bootcamps for teams of six from 20 different U.S. newsrooms. Each bootcamp will last three days.

Google News Lab is backing the project and helping to facilitate locations of the events at colleges in the Google News Lab University Network in Georgia, Missouri, California and New York.

The goal of the bootcamps is to help local news teams learn how to design products and experiences that address growing challenges in reaching and connecting with digital-first audiences. At previous bootcamps, newsrooms built business prototypes both practical and whimsical, like social networks that highlight needs in the community (and connect volunteers to help address them), mobile-only feature stories on local businesses with e-commerce built in directly, and even a marketplace to match people who have dogs that need walking to people who would love to give some else’s dog a walk. The goal is for participants to return to their newsrooms with new ideas, connections and tangible lessons and tools to drive innovation inside their own newsrooms and communities.

Applications are open, starting today. If you’re interested in applying, talk to colleagues and put together a team. Each accepted publication can bring up to six individuals. Teams are encouraged to be multidisciplinary, so consider making a team of diverse colleagues from editorial, business, tech, or design.

If you have questions, please reach out to our friends at Matter: localnews@matter.vc.