About Us

Journalism + Design is a lab at The New School dedicated to nurturing a resilient free press for the future. Through partnerships, public curricula and hands-on mentorship, we build pathways for more people – and more kinds of people –- to participate in their local news ecosystems.

The lab grew out of the Journalism + Design major, which was founded in 2014 with a generous grant from the Knight Foundation. The idea was to merge design processes and systems thinking with traditional journalism to help students be more imaginative and experimental, as well as to develop more collaborative relationships with their communities. Today it is one of the biggest majors at the school, and our graduates can be found at The American Journalism Project, Quartz, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, PRX and The Trace as well as at hyper local newsrooms such as The Queens Post.

You can learn more about the undergrad program here.

The Journalism + Design lab was founded in 2016 with an additional grant from the Knight Foundation, and subsequent funds from The MacArthur Foundation, The Democracy Fund, and the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium.

We currently are involved in four primary projects:

Community News Networks

This work starts with the idea that community colleges – as trusted institutions serving largely non-elite populations – have a vital role to play in their local news ecosystems.

  • J+D develops free training and certificate programs that community colleges offer to students and community members;
  • we facilitate partnerships between community colleges, local media and other community groups to fuel grassroots news production and distribution;
  • and we partner with community colleges to create physical spaces that act as open newsrooms, training facilities, media incubators and community news event spaces.
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Systems Thinking for Journalists

Since 2017, Journalism + Design has led workshops with hundreds of journalists around the world, helping reporters, editors and executives be better systems thinkers. We offer tools pulled from a range of disciplines, including design and conflict resolution, to help news organizations build better relationships with their communities, and so that reporters can more confidently tell complex stories.

We’ve hosted workshops in partnership with small and nonprofit newsrooms and organizations including the Solutions Journalism Network, WNYC / New York Public Radio, New Hampshire Public Radio, The Durham Herald-Sun and the News & Observer, Resolve Philly, Knight-Wallace Fellowships, Renaissance Journalism, The Seattle Times, and the Poynter Institute.

  • Journalism + Design also provides in-depth consulting with small newsrooms seeking to apply systems thinking to a specific reporting project, including:
  • The Baltimore Sun on their investigation into Maryland’s child support services;
  • El Tímpano on their reporting into overcrowded housing and its effects on Latino immigrants;
  • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism on their investigation into a poor quality drug used to treat childhood cancer.

In addition, our systems thinking toolkit can be accessed at no cost through our online site.

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Wicked Problems

A wicked problem is one that is unstable, unpredictable and with boundaries that blur into the boundaries of other problems. At Journalism + Design, we study the crisis of the free press as a wicked problem, using tools pulled from complexity theory, systems thinking, social innovation and design. We use a systems map of the problem space to identify spots where we believe we can be effective.

Our research has been widely used in the field to better frame the problems facing the free press in the 21-st century and to develop holistic solutions.

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Resources for Educators

Journalism + Design creates free curricula and pedagogical materials for anyone looking to teach relevant 21st century journalism. Available on our site is syllabi, class assignments, exercises, innovative grading rubrics and a card deck for use in the classroom or for generating exercises.

All the materials are modular so that educators can mix and match based on their own needs. Many of them are structured as game-like challenges. All of them are playful, and infused with design and systems thinking.

Our educational resources have been used by hundreds of educators at community colleges including the Community College of Philadelphia, Cuyahoga Community College, York College, Bakersfield College and Santa Ana College; as well as other institutions including Columbia University and the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

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Our Funders


Journalism + Design is an undergraduate major at The New School. It was founded in 2014 with the idea of merging design processes and systems thinking with traditional journalism.

Journalism + Design helps journalism students be more imaginative and experimental and to develop open, collaborative relationships with their communities. It teaches what shouldn’t change – things like allegiance to the truth and independence from faction – but encourages students to experiment with every other part. Today it is one of the biggest majors at the school.

Our students have gone on to jobs ranging from product management at Quartz to forging collaborations at places like The Trace and The New Yorker. Former students are working at The American Journalism Project and teaching innovation to podcasters at PRX. Some of our students have dedicated themselves to local news at places like The Queens Post, as well as gone on to leading outlets like Vox, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

For more detailed information about the program or how to apply, visit our website at The New School’s Eugene Lang College of the Arts.


For information about the Journalism + Design Lab, please contact Cole Goins, the Lab’s managing director: goinsm@newschool.edu

For information about the Journalism + Design undergraduate major please contact Blake Eskin, assistant professor: eskinb@newschool.edu