Designing a newspaper from the future places the visualisation of a scenario – such as a moodboard – in a known context. Using common media formats, such as newspapers, postcards, (maga)zines, blogs and advertising can frame the exercise in a familiar language of headlines and 'breaking news', which helps to distill the crucial aspects of a scenario. The result of this exercise is a visual representation of the scenario, aiming to make the stories more concrete and tangible.

NOTE: the process below describes how to design a newspaper, but the same process can be applied for other media formats as well - magazines, postcards, invitations, posters, adds, blogs, news-flashes, etc. All of these media use a similar format which grabs the readers' attention with a mixture of images, headlines, pull-quotes and infographics.

Process

For this technique you will need to set up some large working surfaces and have a diversity of printed images, as well as sufficient drawing, gluing and cutting materials available. You might need to have a camera, computer and printer for any last-minute image additions. It is best to design newspapers in smaller working groups of no more than 5 people. If your group is larger, you should have several breakout groups. You can use the same pool of images for all groups, but each group should have their own crafting materials.

Step 0: Before the exercise, invite the participants to bring images they associate with the topic of the workshop (or if the scenarios have been made beforehand, then images can be directly related to the scenarios. Or if you prefer a less direct approach, ask participants to bring 5–10 images with a wide diversity of content.

  • Step 1: Frame the exercise as a visualisation of your scenario(s) where the most 'newsworthy' aspects of the story should come to the fore. The newspaper should feature the answers to the core question (on which the scenarios are based) from the perspective of this world. It should convey the atmosphere and the key features of the scenario.
  • Step 1a (optional): Breakouts: If your group is large, split it into several breakout groups. You can either make a random grouping, or the participants can chose themselves which scenario they want to work on. There should be no more than 5 people per group.
  • Step 2: News: Discuss what would be considered 'news' in your scenario. What are the headlines? Who would be interviewed? What would be the highlights of their interviews? Would there be any pull-quotes or infographics?
  • Step 3: Visuals: Think about which images would be used to illustrate the articles. Select images and if needed make collages. If there are no appropriate images available, draw illustrations yourself, make photos or create a tableau vivant.
  • Step 4: Layout: Design the layout of your newspaper. What would be on the front page? What is the main headline and cover image? How are the other pages structured?
  • Step 5: Making: Divide tasks/pages and make a prototype of your newspaper.
  • Step 5a (optional): Produce the newspaper: If time, expertise and resources are available, you can decide to produce a newspaper that will look and feel like one you can buy in a newsagent's. This format is excellent for a guerilla futures intervention. In this step the participants (in collaboration with a team of writers and designers) write articles, make photos and other illustrations, design and lay out the newspaper, and print it.
  • Step 5: Launch: At the end of the exercise all groups come together to present their newspapers from different futures. Each group is invited to showcase their newspapers, speak about the headlines and articles, as well as describe the scenario in a nutshell. The other participants are invited to ask clarifying questions. This can be done as the role playing exercise of a 'newspaper launch'.
  • Step 6: Reading room: exhibit the newspapers in a makeshift 'reading room', to allow all participants to browse through the results.