Photo by Anakin Fung
Photo by Anakin Fung

I believe the word “journalism” has lost its meaning. A once trusted news media that led our nation through some of its most trying times by providing facts, context, and understanding has given way to an era of “junk journalism,” where information is used as power and propaganda, where false-equivalency is passed off as “fair and balanced.” But during times of change and turmoil opportunity presents itself. We can redefine journalism and fill the void by exploring the power of citizen journalism, to tell the stories that need to be told. This is the subject of an October 27 workshop I am conducting in partnership with the International Examiner and 21 Progress.

The sheer amount of content being produced right now is staggering; virtually everyone has the ability to produce stories. Technology has provided us with tools to use video, print or audio to tell the stories that need to be told. No longer constrained by corporate media that curates the stories that they deem important and filter what we see, hear, and read.

The goal of the workshop is to help people understand the concepts of citizen journalism and how to use it to create stories that are meaningful and thoughtful, with an emphasis on using video. We will explore what makes a good story and its technical construction to achieve impact, and reach the audience who needs to hear your message. The days where an audience would come to you are gone, the goal now is to get your stories in front of the people who need to see it. Not all stories need to go viral to be successful. If just one person is moved to action by your story, well that may be the greatest achievement of all.

The goal of this first workshop is to network a group of media-smart individuals who can come together to produce stories that will change and challenge the communities. To contribute to change in ways that’s only possible through media. To share in the experience and have a say to each other’s work for a greater purpose while learning and honing their skills.

Media professionals always tell you to tell your own stories, which is true to a certain extent. I like to frame it a different way. The real skill is to tell other people’s stories through the lens of your world experience. It’s especially true for communities of color, whose stories and issues are seldom reported by corporate media, stories that need to be told. Your work is to be the bridge between subject and audience.

I’ve spent my entire life developing skills as a storyteller in the television industry. As an Asian American who worked behind the camera, one of the very few, it was a lonely path, not having role models or mentors in the industry that could help me. I made a lot of mistakes, but I stuck to it and learned as much as I could about my craft and had a successful career. I retired from the industry four years ago, but continue to learn more about the nature of storytelling and capturing audiences. I’m really excited to share my insights and knowledge with people who want to make a difference through citizen journalism.

The International Examiner is teaming up with 21 Progress and Matt Chan, founder of Screaming Flea Productions, to develop a workshop series on citizen journalism. The first session will take place at 21 Progress (409 Maynard Ave S, Ste 202, Seattle, Washington 98104) between 2-4pm on Thursday, October 27. This will be an informal meeting focused on learning what storytelling and video skills participants would like to develop, mapping out future workshops in the series, and exploring citizen journalism. No RSVP necessary. For more information, email [email protected].

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