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ComNet15 Recap: Journalism, Art, and Impact: Blending Journalism, Storytelling and the Arts to Engage Communities to Bring About Change

This presentation was given at the ComNet15 breakout session “Journalism, Art, and Impact: Blending Journalism, Storytelling and the Arts to Engage Communities to Bring About Change.” The session was led by Center for Investigative Reporting’s Robert Rosenthal, Annie Chabel, and Dr. Lindsay Green-Barber, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Tanya Barrientos.

A Ford Falcon van retrofitted into a mobile art installation. Coloring books translated into six languages. Graphic novels. One-act plays and spoken word poetry. Does any of that make you think about credible, fact-based public service journalism? If not, it will after this presentation on the future of journalism with The Center for Investigative Reporting.

At this session, we share how we’ve learned that breaking with traditional story telling while upholding the high standards of investigative journalism has tremendous value. We innovate at the intersection of arts and journalism, unleashing the creative potential of our reporters and multimedia producers. This makes us more effective—at reaching diverse new audiences, communicating the emotional truth of fact-based stories, and sparking real world changes that improves lives.

To illustrate, we draw on our experiences producing “The Dark Side of the Strawberry,” a yearlong investigation into the health and environmental impacts of highly controversial pesticides used to grow California strawberries. This project included feature length text stories and a first-of-its kind data interactive, a digital animation now nominated for an award from the Online News Association, an original theater piece commissioned from one of the nation’s preeminent Hispanic playwrights and performed in Spanish and English, door-to-door surveys of 800 homes located at the epicenter of our reporting, a mobile app, and the development of a high school curriculum that engaged teens with the series.

In addition to showing what we did, we take you behind the scenes in our newsroom to explain why we employed so many creative strategies for just one story. We share other examples of our work, and show you how we are measuring indicators of success far beyond audience and social media metrics. As a special bonus, we preview a sneak peak of our Impact Tracker tool, which has transformed how we think about, plan for, and measure the effectiveness of our work.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to set impact goals for media and communications projects.
  2. Methods and strategies for measuring change.
  3. Why measurement and analysis is valuable for media organizations.

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