Snow and ice delayed the start of the semester at Reese News Lab, but we managed to kick off orientation on Friday the 13th. It could have been a bad omen, but I think we’re off to a pretty good start.

Our semester kicked off with our new executive director, Ryan Thornburg, and some words of wisdom from our friends and alumni.

It found our students starting off orientation by working Legos to learn about the rapid prototyping of design thinking. They competed to build me a laptop stand–unbeknownst to them, I had very specific requirements for my laptop stand. Moral: make sure you interview your user and understand exactly what they want. You don’t want to sell them a drill, you want to sell them a hole.

With that lesson in mind, we practiced interviewing. The students paired up and conducted their first Lab interviews with each other. They tried to understand: “What are the information needs of the UNC community? 

Afterwards, we filled up an empathy map so that we could see what we’d learned. Each intern shared the insights they found through their interviews, and we discussed what makes a good interview question (specific, open-ended, and conversational).

That kicked off the teams’ first project: filling an information need in the UNC community. That was the challenge of Orientation Week, and it ended with the teams’ first pitches. 

Team Nyan Cat

Team Nyan Cat pitched a SubMe, a platform to match subleasers and subletters. Alexis Allston, Wanyi Chen, Carina McDermed, and Gabby Micchia had an impressive first pitch.

Team Axolotl showed off an online marketplace for university students. Reagan Cline, Kelly Jasiura, Eric Smith, and Elaine Zhang showed off their business chops with Tarheel Trade.

It’s been quite a big first week in the Lab, but it’s just a warm up for the rest of the semester. Taking a page from our supporter, the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, we’ll be focusing on news deserts and rural journalism this semester.

Specifically, we’ll be looking closer to home–at Chatham County. More on that next week!

Categories: Updates


Sean Kurz · February 1, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Hey! My name is Sean Kurz and I am new to the School of Media and Journalism here at UNC. I am currently a sophomore focusing on reporting in the school. I am looking to get involved in some of the organizations within the J-School and I saw this organization and searched through your website. I felt that this organization would be very interesting and a great experience for me in the future and I was wondering how I might be able to get involved in the future? Thank you so much!

    Hannah Wang · February 2, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Hi Sean! We typically start hiring for the fall semester in around March–keep an eye on our site and social media for the application. We also have a class each semester, News Lab, that you may be interested in. (Its goals are much the same as those of the internship.)

Reese News Lab | A day in Chatham County: Designing products for news desert residents · February 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

[…] I wrote in our recap, Reese News Lab interns are working to create sustainable media products for Chatham County this […]

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