Sarazhin AhmedChanging Society through Media: Transformative Storytelling

`If you want to understand people, ask for their stories’- Sarah van Gelder, Co-founder and Editor in Chief of the magazine called `Yes!’ said in the Transformational Media Summit, organized by the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University on November, 1. I had the privilege of attending this summit and listening to the stories from the successful people of different organizations, who abled to bring change in the society. The biggest asset, I brought from the summit is that; good stories can connect people and has a power to impact the society. It plays the role of a catalyst for creating change by contextualizing the work being done. People like to know real life stories and see real images of other people or organizations instead of listening man made fake stories or seeing stock photos.

Seán Dagan Wood, editor of `Positive News’, spoke about “constructive journalism”. He placed an emphasis on the angle of reporting, more so than the topic. In doing so, he encouraged to reexamine the ways we ask questions in interviews and to offer solutions in our work.

For a successful storytelling, it is important to know the target audience and how they consume media. Also, there is a need to engage the target audience by encouraging them to participate in the conversation by providing a hash tag, a post or even a comment. MTV’s hit televisions show `Shuga’, world’s first newspaper focused on positive stories `Positive News’ are the live examples of this. I learnt that when crafting a story for organization, or myself there should be some sharing of funny, quirky, strange, or visually interesting details. They are what give stories a life.

In the daylong summit, I met leaders from organizations like Kids Caring 4 Kids, Share our Strength, The British Embassy, National Journal, UN Foundation, Change.org, The Jane Goodall Institute, The British Council, Verizon, Results for Development Institute (R4D), MTV Staying Alive Foundation and many more. Their stories were such a live, that something has started pushing me- `go Sarah, go, u can make it too’..

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