Design Thinking for Solidarity: Fostering Collaboration in the European Public-Interest Media Sector

On Friday 2 June 2023, at Dataharvest in Mechelen, we hosted a Design Thinking for Solidarity workshop, bringing together approximately 15 participants from the Reference Circle network and grantees by Civitates. The two networks co-organized the workshop.

We set out to explore ways to promote solidarity among audiences within the European public-interest media sector.  Below we give an overview of the workshop, highlighting the key ideas and outcomes generated during the brainstorming and format development sessions.

Setting the Stage

The workshop began with a clear focus on the concept of solidarity, emphasizing the importance of stimulating audiences to support not only individual media outlets but also other public-interest friends. Rather than merely discussing design thinking, the participants were actively engaged in its application throughout the session. The format was designed as a sprint/hackathon, dividing the attendees into teams to collaboratively work on designing concrete solutions to the main question at hand.

Brainstorming and Idea Generation

The first phase of the workshop involved a lively round of idea generation. Participants were encouraged to express their thoughts and propose How Might We’s (HMWs) – open-ended questions that served as a starting point for ideation. Some of the initial HMWs included overcoming language and relevance barriers, convincing members of the mutual benefits, and exploring ways to work together effectively.

Exploring Concrete Solutions

As the brainstorming session progressed, the participants delved into developing tangible solutions for fostering solidarity in the European public-interest media sector. Several promising ideas emerged:

  1. Mystery Knowledge Date: An event where media outlets share their expertise and knowledge in an engaging and interactive manner, creating opportunities for cross-collaboration and learning.
  1. Reference’s Voice: Establishing a platform or forum that amplifies the voices of Reference Circle members, offering increased visibility and recognition within the media landscape.
  1. Independent Media Month and Solidarity Month: Designating specific periods dedicated to promoting solidarity among independent media outlets. During these months, campaigns focusing on pressing topics like elections, war, and climate action would be jointly organized by media outlets from the same country.
  1. Content Exchange Room: Creating a virtual space where media outlets can exchange content, fostering knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

The workshop provided a platform for participants to explore innovative ideas and develop concrete solutions for fostering collaboration within the European public-interest media sector. The generated concepts, ranging from mystery knowledge dates to solidarity months, showcased the potential for cross-media cooperation and audience engagement.

As the workshop participants continue to exlore and refine these ideas, they have the potential to strengthen the solidarity model for independent media in Europe and amplify the impact of public-interest journalism.

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