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Documentaries and Diversity in Public and Commercial Programming

This 2014 study by Center Director Patricia Aufderheide, Center Creative Director Caty Borum Chattoo and AU PhD student Tijana Milosevic compared 61 documentaries from four 2013 series: Independent Lens, HBO Documentaries, CNN Docs, and ESPN 30 for 30. The team found that a greater number of Independent Lens programs featured creators from racial minorities, minority characters, or female characters.

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Field Report: Made in LA

This examination of Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar's film project, Made in L.A., written by Center for Social Media research fellow Kafi Kareem, looks at the terms of production for a film project that is self-funded and driven by the need to connect with its users. Made in L.A. documents the struggle for rights of immigrant textile workers who were suffering under sweatshop conditions in Los Angeles. Carracedo and Bahar began an expensive and extensive project without a real grasp of how it would evolve. They survived, and ultimately thrived, due to a relentless search for connection with their users. This project uncovered techniques that others can adopt pre-preemptively, as a way to involve potential supporters from the start in projects that speak to clear constituencies.

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Field Report: OneWorld's Virtual Bali

While social networks and virtual worlds have largely been used for entertainment and personal interaction, they have at times demonstrated the potential to serve as powerful platforms for public media. This field report assesses a project that involved the use of a commercial virtual world, Second Life, and a niche nonprofit social network, OneClimate.net, by a nonprofit media producer, OneWorld UK. By operating a public forum from the 2007 U.N. Climate Change Conference via these platforms, OneWorld was able to expand participation in the conference and create an ongoing conversation among members of a global public interested in environmental issues. While the number of online participants was limited, this experiment drew significant press attention and served as a benchmark for nonprofit and public media uses of these online tools. The OneWorld organizers noted some skepticism on the part of both reporters and other advocacy groups, but hope their example will break down barriers as they continue to use these platforms at subsequent U.N. gatherings. Questions of scale, budget and digital divides still remain.

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Field Report: "Why Democracy?"

This report is Research Fellow Greg Fitzpatrick's examination of "Why Democracy?"—an ambitious multi-platform, multi-country public broadcasting project—demonstrates the opportunities and challenges for public media born in a broadcasting environment to engage publics across global and digital divides.

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Field Report: New Muslim Cool: Engaging Stakeholders in the Filmmaking Process

 The Center for Social Media's field reports profile innovative media for public knowledge and action. Published as part of the Center’s Ford Foundation-supported Future of Public Media project, these case studies explore how publics form around participatory and multiplatform media projects. This field report is the last one in a series of six conducted between 2007 and 2009. CSM Research Fellow Nina Keim analyzes how the feature-length documentary film New Muslim Cool engaged stakeholders in the filmmaking process, resulting in a film that inspires young American Muslims, promotes an interfaith dialogue and helps users overcome prejudices about the Muslim youth community in the United States.

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Field Report: Building Social Media Infrastructure to Engage Publics

This field report traces how a committed group of volunteers harnessed the micro-blogging tool Twitter to create innovative public media 2.0 experiments—first to actively engage users to report on their voting experiences in the 2008 U.S. election, and then to document their experiences of the 2009 presidential inauguration. Along the way, these two projects demonstrated how journalists and advocates can effectively leverage a range of both commercial and open source social media tools to organize, publicize and implement citizen reporting projects, creating infrastructure for related future projects. Organizers have since worked to archive and repurpose the code and collaboration materials from these efforts for use in 2009 election monitoring initiatives in India and Iran.

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Field Report--Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

This field report demonstrates how a social issue documentary film campaign that radiates outward from a PBS broadcast can serve as a test bed for innovations that support civic dialog and expand the spaces and practices of public media. "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" is a personal film that examines representations of gender roles in hip-hop and rap music through the eyes of filmmaker Byron Hurt. A hip-hop enthusiast and former college quarterback turned activist, Hurt was inspired to make the film in 1999, because he was struck by the misogyny, homophobia and violence of videos featured in a countdown on BET’s Rap City. Having earlier made a documentary on black masculinity, he decided to craft a "loving critique" that would encourage men and boys to take a frank look at hip-hop music and themselves.

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Field Report: Land of Opportunity

lop5The Land of Opportunity transmedia documentary project encompasses a feature film and interactive web platform designed to foster dialogue and social impact around community (re)building in the face of crisis/disaster. In 2006, Director/ Producer Luisa Dantas started filming for the documentary (“Land of Opportunity”), which follows several individuals through the early years of postKatrina rebuilding in New Orleans. In 2012, the project evolved to include the interactive web platform (LandofOpportunity), which combines a rich archive of 1 post-Katrina reconstruction stories with multimedia content from several other communities across the country. The interactive narratives featured on the platform explore a range of places and partners facing redevelopment issues. This field report is a primer on the process of creating an interactive web-based experience after releasing a traditional documentary, as part of a greater set of tools for public engagement. This report was compiled using a series of interviews that spanned the length of production and launch of the platform, some of which were used in shorter blog posts published by the Center for Media & Social Impact. Center staff and graduate fellows conducted interviews and the LandofOpportunity production team provided research, consultation and coordination.

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Public TV and Independent, Point of View Documentary

Does public TV need independent and underrepresented voices? Do independent and underrepresented voices need public TV? When WNET contemplated moving Independent Lens and POV off the prime-time schedule in December, it triggered a nation-wide protest. WNET and PBS restored the series to the schedule until May, and promised to hold a listening tour. At this public hearing, viewers, organization heads, and filmmakers talk with public TV executives.

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Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics

Public Media 2.0Public broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, and network newscasts have all played a central role in our democracy, informing citizens and guiding public conversation. But the top-down dissemination technologies that supported them are being supplanted by an open, many-to-many networked media environment. What platforms, standards, and practices will replace or transform legacy public media?

This white paper lays out an expanded vision for “public media 2.0” that places engaged publics at its core, showcasing innovative experiments from its “first two minutes,” and revealing related trends, stakeholders, and policies. Public media 2.0 may look and function differently, but it will share the same goals as the projects that preceded it: educating, informing, and mobilizing its users.

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