Viewpoint

December 13, 2011
Mark Lochrie

Viewpoint was one of the most successful designs to evolve through the process of Insight Journalism on the Bespoke Project hosted in Preston.  It combines two basic elements of journalism; content and design. The former comprises gathering the sort of information people need to make better informed decisions about issues that directly affect them – whether it’s housing, vandalism, plans for a new community centre or where a litter bin should be placed on their street. Like all grass roots journalism it strives to ensure that decisions are open and transparent. The design should create a vehicle which gives this journalism and the community it represents a voice. But it’s a voice which is not only heard but loud enough to demand a suitable response. A considered reply which shows a genuine understanding of what’s needed.

Some were rightly sceptical about Viewpoint’s aim. Would it simply raise expectations and fail to deliver any tangible benefits?

Viewpoint works because everyone who’s involved, from the families on the Callon and Fishwick estates, to the councillors, housing officers, and researchers, understand the importance of commitment and communication. For example if someone asks a question about whether dog fouling is a priority issue for the area then the recipient knows it must be answered quickly and honestly. Their answer is not only communicated to everyone but is followed up to ensure promises are kept.

Viewpoint is the project’s defining moment. It represents the difference between empty political rhetoric and grass roots reality. Rather than connecting the community to a formulaic, centralised and faceless bureaucratic process it links people to people enabling everyone to change things for the better.

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