Working with the Center for Investigative Reporting, CCA students developed innovative strategies for telling challanging and complex stories both online and offline within the Bay Area.

Creative Sprint Prompt:

Participants in the Tech Raking hackathon received prompts that dealt with some of the toughest engagement issues for digital and community-oriented journalism. In order to craft design prompts that best expressed challenges within the field, the Center for Investigative Reporting enlisted feedback from two of its local media partners: KQED and the Bay Area News Group (BANG). These design prompts also took into consideration the role of digitization in both the consumption and circulation of news in order to promote more critical dialogue on comment platforms, which often end up as “echo chambers.”


Students were asked:

  • How might CIR create new ways for people to communicate the role of guns in their neighborhoods while helping to identify root causes and potential solutions?
  • How might BANG create a more participatory coverage model for its newsroom that empowers local residents to communicate about issues that may be overlooked?
  • How might KQED create new ways for people across the SF Bay Area to communicate about the growth of tech organizations and the economic repercussions on their daily lives?

Team Proposals:

“The Whisper Hunters”

Marimar Suarez Penalva | DMBA

Jorge Torres Perez Palacios | DMBA

Thomas Davis | Illustration

The design team conceptualized a physical box, or “Gossip Box,” that could be placed in geographical locations throughout a particular community. Each “Gossip Box” would create a physical and emotional relationship with its community that tech could not duplicate due to the challenges of organizing information over social media. They would be equipped with a set of prompts to solicit written responses from community individuals. Written responses would be routinely collected by the newsroom, cultivating community knowledge while capturing mouth-to-mouth stories.


“Story of the Gun”

Damian Wolfgram | DMBA

Ivan Yip | DMBA

Kinto Diriwachter | BFA Glass

Madeleine Maguire | Graphic Design

“Story of the Gun” designed a guerrilla marketing campaign that utilized QR code technology, allowing local residents to use their smartphone cameras to scan icons. Once the “Story of the Gun” icons were captured through the smartphone camera lens, the community member would be connected to “six degrees of conversation,” a website portraying varying perspectives on guns. Users would then contribute their personal gun-related insights while interacting with local officials, residents, and law enforcement.



After much deliberation, TechRaking jurors awarded “Story of the Gun” first place for their design.  “The Whisper Hunters” was named as the runner up.



Julia Chan | Communications Manager – CIR

Andy Donahue | Senior Editor – CIR

Meghann Farnsworth | Director, Distribution and Engagement – CIR

Anna Pully | Managing Editor – East Bay Express

Lauren McDonald | Instructional Services Librarian – CCA


Design Experts:

Ann Rich | DMBA Alum, Co-Founder and Chief Partnership/ Marketing Strategist – Kishu

Seth D’Ambrosia | MFA Alum, Designer – Ted Boerner, Inc.

Sue Pollock | DMBA Alum, Design Strategist – The Nature Conservancy


Amy Pyle | Managing Editor – CIR

Martin Reynolds | Senior Editor of Community Engagement – Bay Area News Group

Colleen Wilson | Executive Director – KQED

Allen Meyer | Creative Director – New American Media

Jessica Watson | Product Design Manager – Facebook

Cindy Butner | Marketing Director – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

David Cohn |  Executive Producer – JC+

Sarah Bonk | Senior Manager, Interaction Design – Apple, Co- Founder @ Team Democracy

Erin Polgreen | CoFounder – Symbolia