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Field Reports

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.