Isn’t journalism dead? Isn’t print dying by the side of the information superhighway? Hasn’t investigation been lost in the woods, pushed over the cliff by click bait and celebrity gossip? If all this is true, I seek to be the EMT. I recently spent over a year working on an issues project with a well-regarded investigative reporter. I learned that the answer is not to sensationalize, to seek clicks or popularity, but to have all the best data, and to make that data understandable to people who have a stake in it. Packing a punch and making an impact are key, of course. But drama without substance is dead.
I have more commitments than I’ve ever had in my life, but I’ve been freed from a number of the chains that held me back. I will investigate how reciprocation in the form of time credits people can use toward a service they need can revolutionize community volunteering. What if, for example, high school and college students who deliver Meals on Wheels earned a time credit for each delivery they made? When they use that time credit, for tutoring, for someone to bake them a graduation cake, for someone to run lines with them for the school play, for a ride to the next big city for a day at the mall — that credit circulates in the community. What was once a one-way act of service in the delivery of the meal has become a way for many to give back.
I will report on today’s protest singers — the problems our world has always faced, from war to poverty, rage on today, and songs of protest, while not on the playlists of the corporate Top 40 hits, are enjoying a growing audience as people seek to engage, instead of to be numbed from the pain our world delivers at times. This reporting will take the form of a blog, Twitter and Facebook posts, a podcast, a video, an info graphic, and finally a theatrical play — a fictionalized composite of our decade’s female protest singers in the form of a story based on St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The play will culminate in an open mic of local social/ protest singers in the towns and cities where it is performed.
I will report on the human rights crisis of the water shutoff in Detroit — while the crisis rages on, I will create a transmedia investigative report that will fuel the data needed for my web show, UNPAID, which is a 21st century adaptation of the educational revolution of saints Marie Therese Haze and Elizabeth Ann Seton. In UNPAID, Matty and Libby teach students practical skills in a private school held in four abandoned mansions. The upper school students work on the water problem and create an underground waterway that provides relief for their neighborhood. The website for UNPAID will include tools for viewers to join the Detroit water protests (which have reached to Ireland in solidarity) and to get water to people who need it.
I will report on the growth of restorative justice in communities where a crime has been committed. The traditional model is a circle, including the perpetrator, the victims, representatives of the community, and a trained restorative justice facilitator. I see many issues with the circle, and will investigate alternate methods to a circle. The creative work that will arise from this is “Brigid Kildare’s Steelworks,” a theatrical play which has already won an award in the 2009 Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Along with transmedia products, BKS will culminate in a restorative justice project with regular citizens working alongside young offenders on a community project.
Treating readers and viewers as mere consumers of our reporting has died. What new media journalism can do is resurrect solid, factual, objective reporting that matters.
This is my life’s work — research, investigation, reporting, then creating media or live shows around an issue, with the main character in the story modeled after a woman saint from Sarah Gallick’s “Big Book of Women Saints.”
There’s sainthood in all of us, and it doesn’t have to involve a rarefied, mystical experience. It requires only willingness.
I’ve reached the end of the high dive. The stories have found me. Here, I will begin to do them justice.