Volunteer Journalists + Social Entrepreneurs >> Creating a New Media Narrative

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Volunteer Journalists + Social Entrepreneurs >> Creating a New Media Narrative

United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

At the heart of journalism is a story. Every social entrepreneur has one to tell. This venture connects social sector leaders with volunteer journalists from print, photo and film backgrounds to create a dynamic network of storytellers and a media engagement model for social change. Builds on 3-year pilot with Ashoka Fellow Karen Tse that placed 30+ volunteers with hosts in 15 countries. See http://tinyurl.com/33vqozo.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Social entrepreneurs are the architects, engineers, and stewards of systems-changing solutions for a better world. Ashoka, Skoll and other institutions are relying on these leaders to accelerate both the pace of citizen sector innovation and the rate at which great ideas are adopted. Key to the dissemination of these insights is the ability of social entrepreneurs to capture, package, and communicate their message to the general public. Yet, many social sector leaders lack the knowhow or personnel to engage even would-be funders, volunteers, or peer entrepreneurs. At the same time, there are young journalists and aspiring social sector workers desperate for field experience – both to differentiate their résumés and to lend “purpose” to their longer-term career aspirations. Their desperation is amplified by a job and volunteer market that is largely void of opportunities where they can apply their skills for the greater good. Thus, many are forced to decouple their employment from their passions – choosing day labor only to fund elaborate travel expeditions that allow them to “see the world.”

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This venture marries those social entrepreneurs and budding journalists in an attempt to a.) accelerate the growth of the Fellows' initiatives, b.) build resources and tools that other Fellows can use to engage the media and other key sources of support, and c.) deliver a social sector orientation for a pool of charismatic and talented young journalists.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The heart of this idea is the use of journalism as a tool to connect the work of social sector leaders to a larger audience. It uses a proven system of reporting (and story-telling) to cultivate a new wave of would-be funders, volunteers, or peer entrepreneurs for social entrepreneurs through increased media exposure. It also gives budding journalists a platform to use their skills for the common good and incorporate their techniques into a sustainable model (or curriculum) for the organization. That’s real impact. And it starts by telling a story... "I must say that I have a very high sense of satisfaction with working with [the documentary journalist], said Patrick Dunkwu, a Nigerian social entrepreneur who participated in the pilot. "Having a [journalist] helps to give publicity to our work... thereby creating opportunities for others outside Nigeria to appreciate it." We've also seen the profound understanding these journalists take away of the world's injustice and their own capacity to contribute. Volunteer Humera Jabir called it, "A chance to explore an issue from many different angles. A chance to learn about yourself as a writer, how you work, your limitations, and what you find challenging. And most importantly, a chance to bring your creativity, talents, and expertise to support great people who are making a difference." Another benefit is the professionalism way with which participating organizations have been able to demonstrate its programming and impact to outsiders. Reports are no longer just black and white text heavy documents; instead they use the images to transport the reader to the actual sites of their work. There, would-be donors, partners, staff, etc. can get a sense of both the heartbreaking injustice at play and the smart ways organizations are fighting and overcoming that injustice. See http://www.ibj.org/uploads/annual_report_020609_v3.pdf

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are a multitude of services that cater to interns. There are also many firms that focus on international volunteerism and travel. For the moment, this initiative is focused specifically on the creation of high quality stories and media as a growth exercise for budding journalists and as a marketing tool for under-resourced nonprofits. Any confidence that I have in rolling out this venture is based upon a three-year pilot and the volunteer response to the opportunity.