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April 03 2013

16:55

New from MediaStorm–480 Votes for Care


MediaStorm is pleased to announce 480 Votes, a new client project for CARE.

This project was produced in collaboration with Ripple Effect Images and support from the Harbers Family Foundation.

The project is a short, character-driven video piece that shows the life-changing impact CARE’s programs have had on the life of a woman in rural Peru. The piece extends beyond the surface of what the organization provided and speaks to the psychological effects of empowerment.

Project Synopsis: Lourdes Pilco is a middle-aged woman who’s spent most of her life working backbreaking jobs for little money. With the help of CARE, Lourdes was able to send her children to school while setting a new standard for women in her community.

Watch it now button

September 05 2012

14:44

MediaStorm 2013 Workshop Dates Announced

Methodology photo

We are excited to be entering into our sixth training year at MediaStorm. Each year our workshops attract leading industry professionals looking to advance their multimedia and storytelling skills. We’ve now had more than 100 participants come through our professional workshops and we continue to be humbled by how much they take away from the experience.

John Temple, now managing editor at the Washington Post, told us that our Methodology Workshop gave him, “time to stop and step into a different way of seeing journalism.” He said, “I came away inspired by what’s possible if we commit to a different way of thinking about stories.”

After taking our Storytelling Workshop, Simon Schorno, head of media relations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in North America, had the following to say, “The passion of the entire MediaStorm crew for documentary storytelling, their professionalism, their willingness to share what they know and their commitment to help the team produce something we could all be proud of were outstanding.”

Each year our workshop participants remind us what an exciting time it is for our industry and how important it is to keep learning and innovating.

In 2013 we’ll be offering three Methodology, three Storytelling, and four One-day workshops at our studio in Brooklyn, NY. We are looking forward to another exciting, innovative and challenging training year. We hope you’ll be able to join us.

MediaStorm Workshop Dates 2013

MediaStorm provides intensive, hands-on educational experiences through our One-day, Methodology, Storytelling and Traveling Workshops. We’ll be offering the following courses in 2013:

January 12 One-day Workshop January 14-18 Methodology Workshop March 23-29 Storytelling Workshop April 20 One-day Workshop July 20-26 Storytelling Workshop August 12-16 Methodology Workshop September 21 One-day Workshop October 19 One-day Workshop November 2-8 Storytelling Workshop December 9-13 Methodology Workshop

Applications are now open. Apply now.

About Our Workshops

MediaStorm offers an array of in-person workshops and online training opportunities to meet your learning needs.

MediaStorm One-day Workshop
One-day overview session focused on the art of digital storytelling.

MediaStorm Methodology Workshop
This workshop is tailored to professionals who want to integrate MediaStorm methods into their curriculum or approach to storytelling.

MediaStorm Storytelling Workshop
Collaborate with a team to research, shoot and produce a documentary project in just one week. Work as a field reporter, editor or observer as part of crew dedicated to the telling of one story. See products from previous MediaStorm Storytelling Workshops.

Online Training
If you’re not able to join us in Brooklyn this year, consider signing up for a one-year subscription to our Online Training. Pay just one fee for more than six hours of video tutorials with MediaStorm staff on reporting and post-production.

We hope you can join us for another great year of workshops in 2013!

Fall 2012 Workshops

We have three remaining workshops in 2012:

October 20 One-day Workshop *Apply by Sept. 28 November 3-9 Storytelling Workshop *Apply by Sept. 12 December 10-14 Methodology Workshop *Apply by Nov. 9

Fall 2012 applications deadlines are approaching. Apply now.

Learn more about our upcoming 2012 and 2013 workshops at mediastorm.com/train.

August 29 2012

19:27

Apple’s Billion Dollar Storytelling

Apple’s victory over Samsung in a recent smartphone patent brawl netted the company over a billion dollars in damages and, more importantly for Apple, might have strategically slowed the rise of the Korean tech juggernaught that today provides phones to 26 percent of all U.S. mobile subcribers according to comScore.

But what clinched Apple the win, one of the largest patent awards ever on record? Storytelling, according to jurer interviews by the Wall Street Journal.

For Samsung, the story it had to get across was that Apple’s patents weren’t as crucially innovative as Apple claimed them to be, and Apple had to tell the story of a Samsung copycat. ”The Apple lawyers were better at presenting their case,” juror Manuel Ilagan said to the Journal.

Of particular strength was a visual that showed Samsung phones before and after the iPhone came out.

The Journal quotes presiding juror Velvin Hogan to say that it seemed that Samsung didn’t tell a narrative that rose to their intellectual level of its audience. “It was just thrown out there to cause what they perceived to be an unschooled jury,” said Hogan, an engineer and patent holder.

Hogan reports to have “essentially ignored” paid experts and “saw through some of Samsung’s courtroom gambits.”

The storytelling device stood out the most: A chart.

Juror Ilagan says they were pursuaded by a visual comparison of Samsung devices before and after the iPhone was introduced. “It was obvious there was some copying going on,” he told the Journal.

The Apple/Samsung showdown is a reminder of the trumping power of storytelling — a power you don’t have to bill $582 an hour to wield effectively.

August 19 2012

05:57

Writer's block? Reflections on a blank paper

Think Traffic :: This morning I found myself staring at a blank screen. I needed to write a blog post but couldn’t think of any ideas to write about. After about 30 minutes of reading to stimulate my brain, I started wondering: why is it easy to come up with blog topic ideas sometimes, while other times a good idea can’t be found to save your life? I started thinking about the most successful things I’ve written over the past few years. I realized the most popular and engaging things I’ve written were also some of the easiest topics to come up with.

How to come up with story ideas - Continue to read here Corbett Barr, thinktraffic.net

Tags: Storytelling

August 17 2012

10:17

How to get traumatized sources to share their stories

Poynter :: When people have been traumatized, they’re often reluctant to talk to the media. There are ways of getting them to open up, though, and of showing them the value in sharing their story. I talked with five journalists who have interviewed sexual assault victims, people with mental illnesses and parents who have lost children. Here are 10 tips from them.

A guide by Mallary Jean Tenore, www.poynter.org

August 15 2012

15:36

Attend Ignite Your Passion: Next Generation Video Workshop

NPPF logoDon’t miss this opportunity to share the excitement and drive for excellence with some of the top visual journalists in the country. Whether you’re just starting your career or are a seasoned professional, this weekend workshop will inspire and IGNITE YOUR PASSION to push to the next level of video storytelling.

Ignite Your Passion Workshop Details

September 14-16, 2012
Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul.
$50 General | $40 NPPA Members | $20 Students
Space is limited. Early registration recommended.
Learn more and apply.

This event is sponsored by Gannett Foundation, KARE 11, KUSA-TV, and National Press Photographers Foundation.

Questions?

Learn more and apply at nppf.org.

Contact bmiddeke@kare11.com with questions about the workshop.

August 13 2012

15:25

Discover a Bigger, Badder New York with Narratively

Discover Narratively

It’s no secret that New York is saturated with top-notch media outlets. But in such a fast-paced city, many of those outlets have no choice but to focus on the 24/7 cycle of breaking news, politics, entertainment and gossip. Countless blogs and websites repeat these stories over and over, but few have the time, resources or interest to undertake high-quality feature reporting. As a result, great human-interest pieces about New York are hard to find.

Narratively, a new digital publication, is here to change that by running the bigger, badder, weirder, sadder, uplifting and intoxicating stories about New York that average news headlines don’t cover.

Narratively is devoted to telling original, true and in-depth stories about New York, with plans to expand to other cities. It aims to slows down the news cycle. Each week, Narratively will explore a different theme about New York and publish a series of connected stories — just one a day — told in the most appropriate medium for each piece. One might feature a longform article with portrait photos on a Monday, followed by an animated documentary on Tuesday, then a photo essay, an audio piece or a short documentary film. Every story gets the space and time it needs to have an impact.

Narratively on Kickstarter

Narratively is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help them get their project off the ground.

Kickstarter donations will help their team create six months of compelling, innovative and important Narratively stories to kick off their publication.

They will also help complete development of the Narratively website and roll out their plan to become sustainable after their initial six months.

In their first week they are already more than 10 percent to their goal. Help them keep the momentum going!

Learn more about supporting Narratively.







August 04 2012

15:15

The 2012 Summer Olympics: A giant coming-out party for the animated GIF

Nieman Lab :: Did you hear about the Olympic fencer who refused to leave the piste after losing to a computer glitch? I didn’t watch it on television or on NBC’s web livestream, since I don’t have cable. But I did watch the next best thing — maybe the better thing: BuzzFeed’s strangely compelling and haunting recap, presented in videos, still images, and animated GIFs.

Storytelling with animated GIF's - A report by Andrew Phelps, www.niemanlab.org

August 01 2012

15:22

Worth Watching #80: One Morning at Home with John Irving

Great insight from Irving and lovely visuals from Shaul Schwarz and Jeff Hutchens – Brian Storm


One Morning at Home with John Irving by Shaul Schwarz on TIMELightbox.

See other videos that we think are Worth Watching.

10:44

Visual journalism: Advice on building interactives and engaging the audience

Journalism.co.uk :: News outlets use interactives for a number of reasons: to tell a story in a different, more visual way; to enable the deeper exploration of a large dataset; or maybe to offer greater context or to personalise the issue for the user. But overall, the goal will be to interact with and engage the user.

Digital storytelling experts outline key factors to consider when producing interactives, including personalisation, user journey and the importance of 'clickability'.

A report by Rachel McAthy, www.journalism.co.uk

Tags: Storytelling

July 25 2012

14:53

May 06 2012

04:34

Storytelling: Why memes matter

What is a meme? The Daily Meme's understanding of "a meme" here. An additional interpretation in this piece:

GigaOM :: Memes say a lot about us as a culture and as such bear serious examination. For example, even though you can hide your identity on the Internet (where nobody knows you’re a dog) the fact is the web is just as segregated as the rest of the world, said ROFLCon 2012 panelist Latoya Peterson, owner and editor of Racialicious. Memes, oddly enough, are one way to address that separation.

"Meme" - Continue to read here Barb Darrow, gigaom.com

Tags: Storytelling

April 26 2012

14:00

'Carnivàle' Creator Bypasses Hollywood, Launches Transmedia Story 'Haunted'

Discovered on the Internet and known as a storyteller with a unique vision, writer and producer Daniel Knauf, best known as the creator of "Carnivàle" on HBO, has ditched Hollywood and struck out on his own to mine the field of transmedia.

With a beta project made public called "Haunted," Knauf's new company, BXX, is jumping feet first into the transmedia world.

Difficult to separate the plot from the technology, "Haunted" is best described as a fictional story that follows paranormal investigators working inside an abandoned house tormented by supernatural events. The storytelling format features multimedia elements such as research documentation and investigators' blogs. Shot with multiple cameras, the project's navigational timeline allows viewers to manipulate how they view the story.

The transmedia world is a popular one, with Sundance Institute announcing this past fall six transmedia projects accepted into its first-ever New Frontier Lab, with an impressive list of Hollywood heavyweights as advisers. In an article on Mashable, Lisa Hsia, executive vice president of Bravo Digital Media, defined transmedia storytelling as telling a story that extends across multiple media platforms. (For television, it goes beyond the on-air show.)

I spoke with Knauf to find out why "inventing a new narrative" is so important to him, what potential he sees in transmedia storytelling, and to ask him, "Why the rebel stance?" The following is an edited transcript of that discussion.

Bxx: "Haunted" Promo No. 1 from Daniel Knauf on Vimeo.

Q&A

Tell me about BXX (pronounced BOX) and what drew you to create the transmedia project "Haunted" for the Internet?

Daniel Knauf: Black BXX LLC is the name of our company, but we're going by BXX now. I wanted to see if I could make a nonlinear drama work. I came up with BXX Mars about five years ago, and I did the normal thing and talked to the money people. Everyone said, "This is interesting. Can we make a TV show out of it?" It's the first place they go.

The traditional entertainment industry is not known for their humility. They tend to think they are the end all. You don't take a TV show and put it on Hulu and call it Internet content. No, it's not. It's a TV show you're watching on your computer. Hulu's not really Internet, Funny or Die is not really Internet; those are just TV being watched on a different screen. For me, I wanted to invent a narrative that there was absolutely no way you could have done it if the Internet wasn't invented. That was the goal I set myself.

In the end, I just got tired of trying to convince them this lives and breathes on the Internet. I got tired of explaining finance models to them and I thought, let's just do an inexpensive version of this and show them. I had sold "Carnivàle" off the Internet. I've always been into the Internet, and it stuck in my craw that the Internet wasn't treated as the medium it could be.

But obviously money comes into play; what are the plans to monetize BXX?

Knauf: I've given up on Hollywood. They are too frightened. I've gone so far off the reservation. All I want to do is set up shop here in Nashville and build a studio and start making these things. If I had to monetize this right now, I would use surveys. I think they are the least intrusive. I don't think I need people to watch ads every 30 seconds. I hate roll-ins, banners and pop-ups. I'd like to give people the option to subscribe and watch without surveys for a reasonable price. Choice is best.

But let's be realistic, in order to make these things, they cost money. I'm a huge believer in capitalism, and we'll look for people to invest in this. Money follows the eyeballs. I tried a Kickstarter for this, and I didn't meet my goal. But when I told people they would get their money back, I got $14,000 sent to my PayPal account from total strangers in $5 and $10 amounts. They just wanted to see this thing and loved "Carnivàle" and what I do. The money will come.

Audience-building must be key to a project like this that's outside of the Hollywood system and without its production and marketing budgets.

Knauf: I've built a relationship with my audience. It used to be complex for the audience and artists to connect, but that chasm doesn't exist anymore. We have no PR. We've really only promoted through social networks. We had about 3,100 people sign up for early access, and we've had about 8,000 unique visitors. Not bad for no advertising or PR. Only 22 people put their hands on this thing. We are all artists or craftsmen. Even our CFO was pulling cable. I was driving the RV. We didn't build sets. We shot on location. We used high-end security cameras and made certain compromises and bootstrapped it ourselves.

The actors ended up doing such an amazing job, that what was supposed to be a beta, not for the public, we decided to release to the public. We did the pre-launch because we thought it would be pretty buggy and wanted to get feedback before it went public, and two weeks later we went live. Anyone can access anything free. They do have to register if they want to unlock documents; this is so next time you log in, you aren't locked out of documents you've already opened up.

Thumbnail image for Documentation Haunted.jpg

About 30 percent of people who visit spend more than a half hour, and about 12 percent spend more than an hour. I created this to engage people, so we are really happy. Strangely, the U.S.A. is the No. 1 place for hits, but Norway is second. My wife says it is because it's where 'Big Brother' was invented.

Speaking of 'Big Brother,' there is a voyeuristic aspect of "Haunted." It reminds me of certain forms of reality TV mixed with paranormal activity. I think the use of the security cameras amplified that feeling. Can you talk about that?

Knauf: There is a voyeurism quality. Even a good movie feels voyeuristic or (like) a stage drama. What's interesting is, with this shooting schedule, you're not just watching actors acting. You're watching actors living. There was no off-stage. We had cameras in the bathroom. When we said 'action,' we didn't say 'cut' for 32 hours. There is a certain level of reality that occurs in that situation. We directed in shifts, and there is still some footage I haven't seen.

My partner, at about 26 hours, said, 'You gotta come in and watch these people.' I would say they were experiencing some kind of incipient post-traumatic stress syndrome. They were zombie-fied and behaving oddly. The location was like a spook house with sound effects and things falling and crashing. There isn't a big difference between being an actor pretending to be attacked by a haunted house and being a person being attacked by a haunted house. It was a traumatic event for them, and I ended up cutting about eight hours off the shoot.

Dan and cast.jpg

What about the tech part, the security camera vibe and ability to track the characters' movements throughout rooms? How does this factor in, and where do you see this going?

Knauf: I'm used to copywriting everything, but now I get patents and I feel like Thomas Edison. It's really cool, like I'm an inventor or mad scientist. The hardest thing when we are explaining 'Haunted' is the easiest thing when you get on and play with it. People ask, 'How do I watch this? What if I make a mistake?' It doesn't matter. You can't do it wrong. I tell people just watch it, and you'll see how natural it is. Nothing is more artificial than a three-act structure. They don't exist in nature. What you find when you play with 'Haunted' is you are accessing it like you do your memories. Memories don't work in a linear fashion. Memories work like we work on the Internet -- something reminds us of something, that keys something, that then links to something else.

It was designed to have multiple cameras and views open. The first thing that came up was people wanted to sync them all up. I hadn't thought about that, and we did our best to make that happen. Of course with the Internet, maintaining sync is hard unless you have a really big pipe. I would like to make it work better on tablets. We have 90 percent function. We can't get the time slider to work on touchscreen HTML 5 yet, but we are working on it.

What I really want to do is make it so people can download these videos and cut their own movies and have a film festival. We haven't licked that end of the coding yet, but definitely for the next one.

Is there a specific 'event' I can send readers to find to get a taste of 'Haunted'?

Knauf: Saturday, Hour 5, Segment 6, Camera 1 is a good time for people to check out to see a character reacting strongly to something she is watching on camera, then they can go find which camera she is watching. Our audience has blown my mind. We have a lot of multimedia research stuff, articles and such, and they knew to go to the logs and find out when all the weird s--- happens. It didn't even occur to me they could do that. People are so smart at figuring out all the 'wow' moments.

Screenshot Haunted Seg 5.jpg

That's clever of the audience -- a true use of a multimedia project. With this under your belt, are you ready to tackle BXX Mars? What genres of storytelling do you see as lending themselves to this format besides supernatural or horror?

Knauf: BXX Mars is the next one we're doing. It's about a group of astronauts facing being marooned. They have a short launch window they have to make or be stuck on Mars. BXX Mars will be 72 hours. I'd love to do BXX Niagara about a honeymoon hotel. A family reunion would work, too -- any story that Robert Altman would have done. This whole thing is character-driven. We could follow people in a shelter in a hurricane like Katrina or track a firefighter on 9/11 -- or BXX Whitechapel and set up the East End of London and have the actors living that role for a 12-hour period.

How do you decide the length of time to cover?

Knauf: The length of the event isn't as important as how we are covering it. One isn't directing in a traditional sense -- more like cuing events to poke the actors with a stick. It's a marathon for an actor. I'm not willing to hurt people to deliver entertainment. The next one, the actors will really have time to train, especially when we aren't on location but on sets. You could technically call a cut or shoot an insert, but the problem is it feels totally false. There is a level of reality in these performances that exist only in this format. Even voices change in tone depending on whether one is tired or scared. It is impossible to duplicate.

There is a strength in the performance from the actors being in character for so long. The actors had to change how they act. I had to change how I write. Everything changed. It turned out to be a surprising way to tell a story. They wake up in character and cook a corn dog in character. It leads to some real moments. We connect with the quiet moments. That's where drama lives. This format really delivers that.

MS: So is this goodbye to Hollywood?

Knauf: What has really burned me out on Hollywood is since I did 'Carnivàle,' I have a stack about 11 feet tall of material, and maybe 18 inches of it has landed on eyeballs. I didn't get into the business to write for half a dozen studios executives. I've been paid well for the 11 feet, but that's not why I do this. I do this because I am paying forward for every writer that inspired me. If my stuff isn't landing on eyeballs, then I've failed at that. In Hollywood, they are always teetering on the brink of saying no for 1,000 reasons. With BXX, I can create huge amounts of content for peanuts in Hollywood terms. I can create 1,500 hours of content for under a million dollars. This is potentially very profitable, and I can take those profits and do standard productions as well.

BXX Mars will create 1,600 hours of footage. I could easily cut a mini-series out of that for TV. What's cool is once everything is set up, I can bring in an American cast and then bring in a Chinese cast and do it all over again. It is so cross-platform. Everything follows the Internet because the Internet embraces every medium.

And everything you do is yours as opposed to working within the Hollywood system and selling rights. Is that a motivating factor?

Knauf: My big bugaboo with Hollywood is copyright. If you open a Stephen King book, it is copyright Stephen King. If you watch 'Carnivàle,' it is copyright HBO. The only reason for that is they are pigs. There's only five or six of them, and they know they have to stick together. It's like a cartel and so against antitrust laws. I want to create a studio where if someone wants to make something at my studio, they get to retain their copyright. It will never be 'copyright BXX.' That's my pipe dream. We would be what Random House is to Stephen King -- we would publish that person's work. Why would I pirate someone's intellectual property just because I'm the one with the money? It's disgusting the way Hollywood treats artists. Everyone's convinced we are always on the bubble of being fired at all times. The town runs on flop sweat. 'Everybody will never work again.'...There is so much fabulous material that didn't move forward because of Hollywood timidness.

People ask why there isn't anything good on TV. I'm coming from the inside, and I'm telling you that not only do they think the audience is an idiot, to the point where they think you can't feed yourself, but they loathe you, too. They hate the audience because they can't figure out why they watch what they watch. I've read somewhere that the odds of a show succeeding is about the same as they were in the '60s. Things fail now because they are exactly like 10 other things on TV.

I think we are going to have another renaissance. My showrunner friends listen to me being a mad prophet, and they are amazed: 'You do whatever you want to do? No one tells you what you have to do!?' I think when people realize the gates are open and no one will shoot them when they step out, things are going to change.

Mad Scientist Daniel Knauf.jpg

Technology is definitely pushing storytelling to new limits. As writer and blogger Chuck Wendig wrote on transmedia, 'It makes me feel like I'm from the future. In the end, though, whether you call it transmedia or cross-media or new media or hybridized-story-pollination (HSP), it's still just storytelling. Though it's storytelling in a bigger, sometimes weirder, way.'

Amanda Lin Costa is a writer and producer in the film and television industry. She writes a series called "Truth in Documentary Filmmaking" and is currently producing the documentary, "The Art of Memories."

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

April 23 2012

04:38

York Daily record’s ‘Finding Their Way Out’: The lasting impact of a local act of school violence

The Buttry Diary :: For most of my career, I’d need to wait until Sunday to read and write about a big newspaper enterprise project. But I read the York Daily Record and Sunday News’ “Finding Their Way Out” on Friday afternoon. It’s an outstanding package by reporter Bill Landauer and photojournalist Jason Plotkin, designed by Samantha K. Dellinger. They examine the lasting impact of a local act of school violence.

[Jason Plotkin:] On April 24, 2003, hundreds of people in a Red Lion junior high cafeteria witnessed a killing. Then they saw the shooter, a child like most of them, take his own life. ... For many, the trauma never took hold. In time, others broke free. Some are still trapped on that day.

Clipped from: www.ydr.com (share this clip)

Continue to read Steve Buttry, stevebuttry.wordpress.com

York Daily mobile/non-Flash based version of "Finding Their Way Out"

York daily Flash-based version of "Finding Their Way Out"

Tags: Storytelling

April 18 2012

09:28

ZEIT Online, visual facts: Deutsche Bank and the business of bombs

What and when: interactive storytelling.

ZEIT.de :: On November 9, 2011, Deutsche Bank pledged to stop financing cluster bomb manufacturers. But according to a study by non-profit organization Facing Finance, the bank continued to approve loans to producers of cluster munitions after that promise was made.

via Wolfgang Blau, Editor-in-Chief, www.zeit.de, Germany

#Data Visualization: The investor relations between manufacturers of cluster bombs and their lender Deutsche Bank: zeit.de/wirtschaft/clu…

— Wolfgang Blau (@wblau) April 17, 2012

Interactive timeline, find it here - www.zeit.de

Tags: Storytelling
05:59

The price of work: Iraqi women in public and private by Kael Alford, Newsmotion

Newsmotion :: Outside, Iraq is pale, grey, dusty. But inside homes, life explodes in color and lush texture. That is the rediscovery I made when I visited Iraq for the first time in eight years. From 2003 to 2005, I covered the war from the perspective of Iraqi civilians, for the most part not embedded with U.S. troops. I sought to show what the invasion looked like on the receiving end.

Continue to read Kael Alford, newsmotion.org

Tags: Storytelling

April 14 2012

17:34

Storytelling: Pottermore registration now open to all

The Verge :: It's been a long wait for Harry Potter fans, but as of today everyone can access the Pottermore website and begin their journey to becoming a wizard. The site's been stuck in a million-user private beta since August of last year and was originally set for an October release, but that was delayed now due to server concerns.

Continue to read Dante D'Orazio, www.theverge.com

Tags: Storytelling
14:36

Nonlinear storytelling experiment: Titanic sinks ITV ratings

Guardian :: The producer of ITV's £12m Titanic mini-series has admitted the show's nonlinear storytelling, which sees the ship hit the iceberg in each episode, may have put viewers off the Julian Fellowes-scripted drama that has foundered in the ratings.

Continue to read Maggie Brown, www.guardian.co.uk

Tags: Storytelling

April 13 2012

13:50

18DaysInEgypt: Crowdsourcing a Story of Revolution

In the 18 days of Egypt's uprising that began on Jan. 25, 2011 and ended with the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak, thousands of Egyptians turned to their cell phones, digital cameras or social media sites to document the events as they were unfolding in Cairo and across the country.

Tapping into this wealth of material, American documentary filmmaker and journalist Jigar Mehta co-founded 18DaysInEgypt, a crowd-sourced interactive documentary project aimed at capturing the history of the revolution in Egypt. A former video journalist with The New York Times where he contributed to innovative collaborative media projects, Mehta was awarded a 2011 Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University for 18DaysInEgypt and currently splits his time between the U.S. and Egypt.



18DaysInEgypt, a collaborative documentary project about the revolution in Egypt.


In his new capacity as digital entrepreneur, Mehta explains in a Q&A why he considers 18DaysInEgypt a pioneering storytelling platform.

Q: What triggered the idea to create 18DaysInEgypt?


Jigar Mehta: It was around day 17 of the Egyptian revolution. Just like many others, I was following the events via social media to know what was happening in real time. It was overwhelming to see masses of Egyptians taking to the streets in their remarkable bid for freedom, and ousting a leader so quickly. It wasn't Al Jazeera or CNN telling me what was happening; it was the people who were there filming on their cell phones, taking pictures, texting, tweeting, Facebooking, live streaming on YouTube.That's when I had my original inspiration: What would it be like to make a film using the media that people generated during those 18 days to tell their stories?

As 18DaysInEgypt kicked off, my team and I realized that the raw material created by Egyptians, whether a tweet, a photo or a video, was just the beginning of the storytelling process. The core part of the project has been to retrieve these snippets of moments captured by the people on location, collect their thousands of stories and make them available on our website, both in English and in Arabic.


image
18 Days in Egypt fellows and tech team. (IΛ is 18 in Arabic.)

Source: 18DaysInEgypt Kickstarter project


Who is involved in the project?


JM: My business partner Yasmin Elayat, a software developer based in Cairo, and I are the co-creators. We teamed up with documentary producer Hugo Soskin to work on the story structure and with Emerge Technology, an Egypt-based software development company. We worked on building the online collaborative storytelling platform, GroupStream. In addition, we started a fellowship program targeted at young Egyptian university graduates. There are currently six fellows who are helping us to collect and post stories on the website, but also to share media through their networks, and encourage other people to contribute with their own stories.

The people who are registering on the website right now are definitely younger people, social media savvy users, bloggers. The stories are, nevertheless, representative of a larger section of the population because young users may post stories relating to their parents, or other, elderly, family members.

What is innovative about 18DaysInEgypt?


JM: First, we introduced something that is not a one-off initiative. Unlike a traditional linear documentary, this project is rather an open, interactive space. Second, this initiative removes the curator in that the person who created the media is the one who shares the story in the way he or she wanted to tell it.

We designed a user-friendly website that guides people through the process of creating a story by enabling them to upload and store media content, produced from events recorded in real time. The stories can then be shared and accessed by everyone now and in the future.

We look at 18DaysInEgypt as a "sandbox" to experiment and gain understanding in how people can tell stories as a group and experience that journey, which is a very important part of the storytelling.



2011 Knight Fellow Jigar Mehta explains what motivated him to set out to help Egyptians capture and preserve the media they had created during the revolution.


What is the project's main appeal?

JM: I think it is its ability to show how stories are connected. We provide a place to create a story or timeline by pulling together all the media fragments from several sites and services. By adding date tags and map location, we are able to help users connect individual stories.

Besides, the site is updated every day as new features are introduced. We recently changed how we share stories: You can now like a story directly from the site's main page.

What topics are covered in the stories?


JM: The stories cover a broad variety of topics and events such as the football match tragedy in Port Said stadium, women's day, humor of Egyptian protesters, music and graffiti art inspired by the revolutionary struggle.

How has the Egyptian public responded to 18DaysInEgypt?


JM: Although 18DaysInEgypt started off as a project about the 18 days, we built the website in a way that it presents the history of the ongoing revolution. There are two interesting correlations that we have noticed in the response to our initiative. We launched the website on January 19 of this year and two weeks later, when the Port Said football disaster took place, we saw an incredible online traffic in people both registering and consuming present day stories. Furthermore, we have clearly seen a steady monthly increase in returning visitors, which is a good indication that people are wanting more.

Will the scope of the project evolve beyond the revolution? Will it expand geographically?


JM: Sure. We developed a project that really thinks in line with the way the web works; we do see the potential in this for many types of stories to be told in a new, open way. What we have seen since last year, through events such as the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, the riots in the U.K., is that people first want to see raw media elements created from the frontline (photos, tweets, Facebook updates, YouTube videos) before going to traditional media. So a platform that allows storytelling in the rawest form is very powerful.

Our major plan for the next few months is to expand outside Cairo. We recently raised funds through Kickstarter, and soon we will have fellows in Luxor, Aswan, Suez, Alexandria, Port Said, and other parts of Egypt.

The biggest challenge remains the gathering of thousands of stories to contribute to Egypt's big story.


image

How do you go about promoting the initiative?


JM: Our fellowship program is playing a big part in our promotional efforts. We organized a mass launch party in Tahrir Square last February 19, when the project successfully raised its funding goal. We are regularly calling on institutional sponsors and partners to support us. Not only are we feeding the site with rich content, we are also training the next generation of Egyptian journalists to gather and craft stories through the fellowship program.

We are actively involving the local press, both in English and Arabic language. We are relying on our personal networks, which is the most effective way to engage with communities and encourage more people to use the website and tell their stories.

What is your long-term vision for 18DaysInEgypt?


JM: We want to wrap up the project at some point. Perhaps after the presidential elections on May 23- 24, we will decide to stop collecting stories, then we can start working on what we call the "experience": how to take all the collected stories and present them in a digestible format for someone who, in years ahead, would like to learn about the Egyptian revolution. This is a way to make history come alive.

Alessandra Bajec, Italian/French bilingual, holds a Master's degree in Conflict Resolution and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. Between June 2010 and May 2011, she lived in Palestine, where she made her first steps as a freelance journalist. During that time, she reported on news events, conducting interviews and writing feature stories. She also contributed as English radio newscaster to Voice of An-Najah (An-Najah University). Her articles have appeared in Palestinian newswires such as the PNN, IMEMC, and The Palestine Telegraph. Now based in London, she is establishing herself as a regular freelance journalist. Her interests include Palestine, the Middle East, independent journalism, peace, human rights, and international travel.


ejc-logo small.jpgThis piece was originally published by the European Journalism Centre, an independent non-profit institute dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals. Follow @ejcnet for Twitter updates, here on Facebook and on the EJC Online Journalism Community.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

13:15

18DaysInEgypt: Crowdsourcing a Story of Revolution

In the 18 days of Egypt's uprising that began on Jan. 25, 2011 and ended with the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak, thousands of Egyptians turned to their cell phones, digital cameras or social media sites to document the events as they were unfolding in Cairo and across the country.

Tapping into this wealth of material, American documentary filmmaker and journalist Jigar Mehta co-founded 18DaysInEgypt, a crowd-sourced interactive documentary project aimed at capturing the history of the revolution in Egypt. A former video journalist with The New York Times where he contributed to innovative collaborative media projects, Mehta was awarded a 2011 Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University for 18DaysInEgypt and currently splits his time between the U.S. and Egypt.



18DaysInEgypt, a collaborative documentary project about the revolution in Egypt.


In his new capacity as digital entrepreneur, Mehta explains in a Q&A why he considers 18DaysInEgypt a pioneering storytelling platform.

Q: What triggered the idea to create 18DaysInEgypt?


Jigar Mehta: It was around day 17 of the Egyptian revolution. Just like many others, I was following the events via social media to know what was happening in real time. It was overwhelming to see masses of Egyptians taking to the streets in their remarkable bid for freedom, and ousting a leader so quickly. It wasn't Al Jazeera or CNN telling me what was happening; it was the people who were there filming on their cell phones, taking pictures, texting, tweeting, Facebooking, live streaming on YouTube.That's when I had my original inspiration: What would it be like to make a film using the media that people generated during those 18 days to tell their stories?

As 18DaysInEgypt kicked off, my team and I realized that the raw material created by Egyptians, whether a tweet, a photo or a video, was just the beginning of the storytelling process. The core part of the project has been to retrieve these snippets of moments captured by the people on location, collect their thousands of stories and make them available on our website, both in English and in Arabic.


image
18 Days in Egypt fellows and tech team. (IΛ is 18 in Arabic.)

Source: 18DaysInEgypt Kickstarter project


Who is involved in the project?


JM: My business partner Yasmin Elayat, a software developer based in Cairo, and I are the co-creators. We teamed up with documentary producer Hugo Soskin to work on the story structure and with Emerge Technology, an Egypt-based software development company. We worked on building the online collaborative storytelling platform, GroupStream. In addition, we started a fellowship program targeted at young Egyptian university graduates. There are currently six fellows who are helping us to collect and post stories on the website, but also to share media through their networks, and encourage other people to contribute with their own stories.

The people who are registering on the website right now are definitely younger people, social media savvy users, bloggers. The stories are, nevertheless, representative of a larger section of the population because young users may post stories relating to their parents, or other, elderly, family members.

What is innovative about 18DaysInEgypt?


JM: First, we introduced something that is not a one-off initiative. Unlike a traditional linear documentary, this project is rather an open, interactive space. Second, this initiative removes the curator in that the person who created the media is the one who shares the story in the way he or she wanted to tell it.

We designed a user-friendly website that guides people through the process of creating a story by enabling them to upload and store media content, produced from events recorded in real time. The stories can then be shared and accessed by everyone now and in the future.

We look at 18DaysInEgypt as a "sandbox" to experiment and gain understanding in how people can tell stories as a group and experience that journey, which is a very important part of the storytelling.



2011 Knight Fellow Jigar Mehta explains what motivated him to set out to help Egyptians capture and preserve the media they had created during the revolution.


What is the project's main appeal?

JM: I think it is its ability to show how stories are connected. We provide a place to create a story or timeline by pulling together all the media fragments from several sites and services. By adding date tags and map location, we are able to help users connect individual stories.

Besides, the site is updated every day as new features are introduced. We recently changed how we share stories: You can now like a story directly from the site's main page.

What topics are covered in the stories?


JM: The stories cover a broad variety of topics and events such as the football match tragedy in Port Said stadium, women's day, humor of Egyptian protesters, music and graffiti art inspired by the revolutionary struggle.

How has the Egyptian public responded to 18DaysInEgypt?


JM: Although 18DaysInEgypt started off as a project about the 18 days, we built the website in a way that it presents the history of the ongoing revolution. There are two interesting correlations that we have noticed in the response to our initiative. We launched the website on January 19 of this year and two weeks later, when the Port Said football disaster took place, we saw an incredible online traffic in people both registering and consuming present day stories. Furthermore, we have clearly seen a steady monthly increase in returning visitors, which is a good indication that people are wanting more.

Will the scope of the project evolve beyond the revolution? Will it expand geographically?


JM: Sure. We developed a project that really thinks in line with the way the web works; we do see the potential in this for many types of stories to be told in a new, open way. What we have seen since last year, through events such as the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, the riots in the U.K., is that people first want to see raw media elements created from the frontline (photos, tweets, Facebook updates, YouTube videos) before going to traditional media. So a platform that allows storytelling in the rawest form is very powerful.

Our major plan for the next few months is to expand outside Cairo. We recently raised funds through Kickstarter, and soon we will have fellows in Luxor, Aswan, Suez, Alexandria, Port Said, and other parts of Egypt.

The biggest challenge remains the gathering of thousands of stories to contribute to Egypt's big story.


image

How do you go about promoting the initiative?


JM: Our fellowship program is playing a big part in our promotional efforts. We organized a mass launch party in Tahrir Square last February 19, when the project successfully raised its funding goal. We are regularly calling on institutional sponsors and partners to support us. Not only are we feeding the site with rich content, we are also training the next generation of Egyptian journalists to gather and craft stories through the fellowship program.

We are actively involving the local press, both in English and Arabic language. We are relying on our personal networks, which is the most effective way to engage with communities and encourage more people to use the website and tell their stories.

What is your long-term vision for 18DaysInEgypt?


JM: We want to wrap up the project at some point. Perhaps after the presidential elections on May 23- 24, we will decide to stop collecting stories, then we can start working on what we call the "experience": how to take all the collected stories and present them in a digestible format for someone who, in years ahead, would like to learn about the Egyptian revolution. This is a way to make history come alive.

Alessandra Bajec, Italian/French bilingual, holds a Master's degree in Conflict Resolution and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. Between June 2010 and May 2011, she lived in Palestine, where she made her first steps as a freelance journalist. During that time, she reported on news events, conducting interviews and writing feature stories. She also contributed as English radio newscaster to Voice of An-Najah (An-Najah University). Her articles have appeared in Palestinian newswires such as the PNN, IMEMC, and The Palestine Telegraph. Now based in London, she is establishing herself as a regular freelance journalist. Her interests include Palestine, the Middle East, independent journalism, peace, human rights, and international travel.


ejc-logo small.jpgThis piece was originally published by the European Journalism Centre, an independent non-profit institute dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals. Follow @ejcnet for Twitter updates, here on Facebook and on the EJC Online Journalism Community.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

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