“Movements have narratives. They tell stories, because they are not just about rearranging economics and politics. They also rearrange meaning. And they’re not just about redistributing the goods. They’re about figuring out what is good.” — Marshall Ganz
The Next American Media Makers is not simply about digital production – there are many programs that can teach students how to use video and audio technology. Our program teaches students the power of storytelling – how creating and shaping a narrative can change the world. It begins simply with a story – their story. And hopefully, our project ends by opening a window of possibility and opportunity for our students.
Every minute of the day we are bombarded by a constant stream of information. This stream splashes on us from our TVs, mobile devices, on screens in the places we work and shop, our cars and even on public transportation. It is almost impossible to go anywhere in this country and not be “plugged in.” When combined, those streams of information create the Great American Narrative. It is the story we tell ourselves daily - about ourselves – reinforcing our beliefs while reflecting upon our fears, anxieties, hopes and aspirations.
This powerful Narrative shapes who we are as Americans. We may not even be conscious of how this story impacts us but ask anyone from another country to describe America and Americans and you can be sure those opinions and perceptions – good and bad – are shaped by that Narrative.
The Digital Revolution democratized this flow of information with such force that it completely shifted culture, commerce and society. And while the Digital Revolution created the opportunity for all of us to contribute and shape this Narrative, too many communities remain invisible or distorted in this Narrative. They don’t have access to the tools and resources they need to participate in this new paradigm. They live on the wrong side of the Digital Divide. Their stories are either ignored, or worse, distorted. They become the villains, scapegoats and victims of the Great American Narrative – simply because they can’t tell their side of the story.
This idea is at the core of the Next American Media Makers. We believe we all have the right to tell our own story and to contribute our voice to the Great American Narrative. That is why we must train and support a new generation of storytellers. We must prepare the next generation not only to share their stories but to be more respectful and honest with everyone else’s story.
The Next American Media Makers will provide the tools and training to teach a new generation of storytellers how to utilize digital technology to tell their own stories and contribute to the larger Narrative. This new generation of storytellers will hopefully produce a new Great American Narrative that more accurately reflects the communities, opinions and attitudes of our country.