Outreach and Activism

Digital storytelling is a unique way for individuals to represent the world around them outside the boundaries of traditional media outlets. Couldry (2008: 53-54) claims that digital storytelling is a means of mediation, giving digital storytellers the means to “re-energize community and possibly even democracy” and to correct “hidden injuries from media power” by creating their own forms of media.  Digital storytelling can create a window into an individual’s world that might not otherwise be visible to the larger community.  Making this window publicly viewable and accessible encourages community involvement and fosters mediation (Czarnecki, 2010, ch. 1).

If the goal of your project is activism and community outreach, the story selection should reflect this goal.  Perhaps your storytellers are commenting on a local event as their way of reflecting upon this event and the impact on the community, or perhaps you want to convince community leaders to tell their stories so that the greater community becomes more involved by seeing familiar faces telling personal stories.  Partnering with local news stations and newspapers to publicize your project will be helpful, as will distributing marketing material related to the program within your library.  Local news stations may even be interested in airing some of your digital stories, which is another opportunity to foster community involvement and activism.

If you are creating a digital storytelling project for the purposes of community outreach and activism, the following questions may be helpful for you in narrowing your scope:

  1. Is the goal of the project to collect and distribute the stories or to equip the community with the resources to produce the stories?  This answer can determine the entire approach to the project.
  2. What technology would you like to use?  Depending on the primary goal of your project, choices for technology may vary.  Establishing technical requirements for your project are addressed in this section.
  3. How would you like to distribute stories created?  If your goal is community outreach and activism, defining the approach to reaching target audiences will be helpful early in the project.

For more information on digital storytelling as a means of community outreach and activism, please see some of the following resources:

Couldry, Nick.  (2009).  Digital storytelling, media research and democracy:  Conceptual choices and alternative futures. In Knut Lundby (Ed.), Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-representations in new media (pp. 41-60).  New York: P. Lang.

Czarnecki, Kelly.  (2010). Digital Storytelling in Practice. Chicago: ALA TechSource.

Erstad, Ola and Wertsch, James V. (2009).  Tales of mediation: Narrative and digital media as cultural tools.  In Knut Lundby (Ed.), Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-representations in new media (pp. 21-40).  New York: P. Lang.

Thumim, Nancy. (2009).  “It’s good for them to know my story”: Cultural mediation as tension. In Knut Lundby (Ed.), Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-representations in new media (pp. 85-104).  New York: P. Lang.

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