5 stories that show how the media can be a force for good

Over the past week, we’ve come across some interesting stories that show how the media can create meaningful awareness and change. A few of the stories focus on creative approaches to anniversary coverage, while others offer up interesting examples of restorative narrative and solutions journalism.

Here are five of the best articles we came across:


“How Community Engagement Can Help Reshape Media Coverage of Race, Protests, and Power”: In this piece, Daniela Gerson, community engagement editor at the Los Angeles Times, explains how local journalists, USC Annenberg faculty, and students worked with community members to create solutions-based stories about the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots in South Los Angeles. A lot of anniversary coverage tends to be predictable. Gerson and her team decided to take a different approach to their “Watts Revisited” coverage by asking: “Can anniversary coverage present an opportunity for media outlets to play another, potentially more lasting role?”


“Respect: A Young Tour Guide, a Hiroshima Survivor, and a Baton Passed”: In recognition of the 70 years that have passed since an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, PRI created a series of video animations featuring stories of survivors. PRI introduced the first animation with an important question: “How do you explain the impact to people who are generations removed from the carnage? Here’s an animation about a chance encounter in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial where a 87-year-old survivor hopes that his memory will live on after he dies. It’s also about friendship, respect and passing the baton of memory.”



“The Katrina Class: A Decade After Hurricane Katrina, We Track the Storm’s Impact on Some of its Youngest Victims”: This story, written by Kim Severson, takes an important look at how Hurricane Katrina displaced a group elementary school children, and how it continues to impact them today. “August 2005 began with promise for the third graders in Room 10 at the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood. Then Hurricane Katrina came, scattering the students throughout the South,” Severson writes. “Ten years later, what happened to those thirty-four children — and the countless others like them — is a story we’re only just beginning to piece together.” The story features a short film about Room 10, created by documentary filmmaker Joe York.


“Parents of Slain 12-Year-Old Honor Him by Donating Backpacks to Thousands of Kids,”: This story, written by Seattle Times’ Sara Jean Green, is a good example of a Restorative Narrative — a story that shows how people and communities are making a meaningful progression from despair to resilience. It features two parents, Ayanna and Louis, whose son was fatally shot five years ago after being mistaken for a gang rival. The parents continue to grapple with their loss, which “still hurts,” but no longer paralyzes them. As a way to cope, they began collecting and distributing school supplies and backpacks to children in their working-class community. Since 2012, they’ve distributed about 3,500 backpacks.


“Q&A with Chuck Reece: A Bitter Southerner Reimagines the Region”: This is a worthwhile NPR interview with Chuck Reece, editor-in-chief and founder of a digital magazine called “The Bitter Southerner.” Reece says he believes the media often perpetuates stereotypes about the South — a problem that prompted him to create “The Bitter Southerner.” “With most media, you get one of two versions of the South: You sort of get the polite tea party — and I don’t mean that in the political sense — genteel, hospitable South, or you get the “redneck” stereotypes. You never get anything in between,” Reece tells NPR. “That’s what bothered us. We’ve got all the great stories in the middle.”


Have interesting examples of how the media is acting as a force for good? Pease send them to info@ivoh.org

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