We're hiring - Scriptwriter/editor for audio & video projects

 ‘Blue Mic Snowball’ by  Sergey Galyonkin  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

‘Blue Mic Snowball’ by Sergey Galyonkin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 2019 we’re kicking off some more podcast projects at Storythings, and a new educational series for Youtube. We’re looking for a scriptwriter/editor to work on both of these projects.

We’re looking for someone with experience of writing scripts for audio/video, ideally with podcast or youtube experience. Knowledge of the technology/education sectors is a big plus, as is experience in producing entertaining casual learning content.

Here’s the full job description below - if you’re interested in the role, please send your CV with a covering email with examples of previous work to Matt Locke at Storythings. We’ll be starting these projects straight away in Jan 2019, so we’d like CVs before the end of Friday 21st Dec.

As always with Storythings, we strongly encourage applicants from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, as we want to support new talent and as many different voices as possible in the work we produce.

Job Description
Audio/Video Scriptwriter

Reporting to:
Hugh Garry, Director, Storythings Ltd.

Responsibilities:
Leading on the research, development and writing of scripts for Storythings podcast and Youtube projects.

Working with the production team to develop editorial formats for these projects, identify story beats and structures for each episode, and research potential experts and locations for recording.

Working with the production team to develop recording/shooting schedules from the scripts, and supporting the production team to ensure the episodes are produced on time and to a very high standard.

Working with the production team to identify, clear and make available audio, video, images and other assets as needed for the production of the two projects.

Ensuring that all project deliverables are high quality and deliver the values of the Storythings and partner brands.

Ensuring that all project deliverables meet the technical and legal standards required of the project.

Representing Storythings at project meetings with our clients and project partners.

Requirements:

Experience of script production in audio, video and digital environments.

Experience in producing popular content for social media, including Youtube, Twitter and other platforms.

Experience in writing entertaining popular content about technology and/or education.

Experience in co-ordinating digital content from multiple sources and clearing rights for web/social media channels

Experience of working on projects to tight deadlines and broadcast transmission schedules

Experience in working with a range of CMS systems to write, edit and publish content.

Salary and conditions
Salary will be based on experience. We are happy to discuss either Freelance or PAYE contracts for this role, which will be for an initial 6 months, with 6 months extension based on work progress. The production team will be based in London/Brighton, but we’re happy to discuss remote work where this is feasible. We’re also very happy to discuss flexible working patterns where this is appropriate.

Storythings Impact Summary: October 2018

October saw the end of one huge project at Storythings, and the start of a couple more, including one very important anniversary.

This is the second impact summary we’ve published — the first was our September summary last month. It’s an evolving format, but we’d love your feedback and comments. We do a lot of very diverse projects, with different impacts for different communities around the globe, and writing this summary really helps us reflect on what we’ve been doing. Hopefully, it helps other people understand what we do as well.

 Meredith Viera presenting the finale for The Great American Read

Meredith Viera presenting the finale for The Great American Read

The Great American Read

This was a major cross platform project for PBS, asking Americans to vote for their favourite novel from a list of 100 books derived from audience surveys and expert advisors. Launching in May 2018, a season of TV shows has explored the joys of reading across diverse communities, and online content has been getting out the vote to find America’s favourite novel.

What we did

We’ve been working on this project since 2017, helping TV production company Nutopia develop the interactive elements of the initial pitch, and then taking on the role of Digital Executive Producer to scope, tender and manage the production of the digital campaign. Over the last few months of the campaign we focused on analysing the voting data, pulling out interesting trends and stories, and helping the production team prepare content for the finale show.

The impact so far

After five months of voting, and over 4.2m votes in total, the winner of The Great American Read was - To Kill A Mockingbird! The book had led the voting from the start, and despite a strong showing from Outlander, held the lead throughout. We attended the live finale recording in New York on Oct 21st, and watched the social media response as the show was broadcast on Oct 23rd. The result generated a huge debate on Twitter, especially as TKAM explores issues of race and justice that are just as relevant now as they were when it was first published in 1960.

 Conway Hall in London, location for The Story Conference

Conway Hall in London, location for The Story Conference

The Story Conference & The Story Academy
The Story Conference is our annual conference bringing together a diverse range of speakers from across different creative sectors. We started the event in 2010, and our speakers have included Alan Rusbridger, Bryony Kimmings, Musa Okwomnga, Nikesh Shukla, Cornelia Parker, Diane Coyle and Jarvis Cocker.

What we did

Our next conference in February 2019 is the 10th event, so to celebrate we’re launching The Story Academy, a year-long pilot programme to support emerging creative talent who are not in formal education or training. We’ve launched a call for sponsors and partners to help fund the salaries/bursaries and host the participants in a six month paid placement.

The impact so far

Over the last nine years of The Story, we’ve raised over £50k for three organisations who run literacy projects for young people - the Ministry of Stories, Grimm & Co and Little Green Pig. For the 10th anniversary, we wanted to do something more ambitious, and start a new project to give emerging creative talent the two things they need to develop their careers - time and networks.

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How We Get To Next - Beats

How We Get To Next is our flagship publication, launched in 2014. At How We Get To Next, we think the future needs a new framework. We call it structural futurism: a way of imagining the future that focuses on how people interact with systems, be it corporate agriculture or institutional racism. How We Get To Next asks the questions: How should power be administered? How should resources be distributed? How should systems be structured? What we think about the future changes how we think about — and what we do — now.

What we did

In October we launched a new project within How We Get To Next called Beats. We’ve hired four new writers - Lou Cornum on “Space”, Alicia Kennedy on “Food”, Kenny Fries on “Disability” and Lola Pellegrino on “Health”. Each Beat offers a unique view into the structural challenges humanity faces as a global community — and, indeed, as a species. How should power be administered? How should resources be distributed? How should systems be structured? Our Beats writers will explore how these questions apply to corporate space travel, to global food production, to the legal and cultural norms that define both “disability” and “ability,” and to deficits in funding, research, and care in the field of women’s health.

Impact so far

The first two Beats essays have already had an impact. Kenny Fries’ essay asked how we can change the stories we tell about disability in the future, and Alicia Kennedy looked at what it would take for Americans to give up eating beef. Both essays generated a huge amount of sharing and discussing online, particularly among organisations and communities focused on disability and the links between diet and the climate. We’re really pleased to see the initial response, and are now working on ideas for how we can build and grow active communities around our new Beats writers.

Reflecting on XOXO 2018

  Image credit:    Tom Coates

Image credit: Tom Coates

I had the good fortune to be able to go to XOXO in September this year. It was my first – I was a XOXO newbie. Up to that point, all I knew about it was from following some very smart people in my network on Twitter. I lived through them vicariously and I always hoped that some day I’d get to go. That actually happened this year.  

XOXO bills itself as ‘an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet’. I’d like to congratulate whoever came up with that description because it is really accurate. It is experimental, it’s largely for independent creators (there were a fair few people attending who worked in traditional tech corporates like Google but they were not the focus), and it is very much about the internet. Creators Andy Baio and Andy Macmillan have created something special over the years – XOXO started in 2012, and happened every year except 2017, when they took a break. It’s grown steadily bigger, from a  few hundred to the 2000+ that attended this year, and I can really imagine the amount of work that went into it, coming right off organizing the Ada’s List Conference in September this year, which was just for 120 people!

I didn’t know what to expect going in. I knew some of the names – I’m a fan of the work of people like Hari Kondabolu and Ijeoma Oluo for example, both of whom were speaking at the conference, but largely I went in expecting to learn and be inspired. And I was. I’m not going to lie – a lot of it was very philosophical, and a lot of it political – but if I’m honest with myself I think about things in those veins a lot anyway so I was a good candidate to attend the event I suppose! Here are some of my favourite parts:

Cameron Esposito gave a rousing opening keynote on being a woman today on the internet. There was a lot of #MeToo but a lot of it was about making the internet better.

Jonny Sun started off the first full day of the conference talking about a few things: art, the internet, and mental health. He spoke about how even he, as a known artist, still experiences imposter syndrome. He said that with art what was important was to just keep going. I loved what he said about the internet itself, that it was a ‘place to work out who you are’ – essentially helping people build their identity. One of the powers of the internet, he said, is the fact that it makes us all feel outsiders - but we are all outsiders together. He said it’s tough staying positive on the web (trolls are real) and that it can take a toll on our mental health, so whether it is memes or jokes, use whatever you need to feel better. He closed by asking the audience to ‘reflect lived experiences as openly and honestly as we can’.

Jean Grae is really a polymath: a rapper, singer, writer, comedian, and actor. So much of what she said resonated with me: there aren’t many female rappers, and she’s always boxed into the ‘female’ category: “why can’t we talk about the full realisation of my narrative, why is it always ‘but what about your vagina and how does that hinder you in making music?!” Amen to that – I know a lot of women who are always assigned the ‘female’ role instead of being given the opportunity to talk about their area of expertise. Growing up, Jean learnt not to pay attention to anyone who said she couldn’t do something – which was a lot of people. She came to know the frustration of not being given opportunities when she could usually do things better than people who were selected. And she ended brilliantly as well, talking about American politics as it is today: “We should never get to a place in the world where we are right now.”

Jennifer 8.Lee is an Emoji Activist (yep - that’s a title I hadn’t heard before either!) through her grassroots emoji activism group Emojination. Her entertaining talk took us through the history of emojis and her contribution to the field (her activism played a big part in the creation of the dumpling and hijab emojis), amongst others. Her passion when talking about people who want conventional things from life expressly being the opposite of who she was, was the best: “Who you envy is a compass for what you care about”, and “I do not want to pass frictionlessly through this world.” CLAPS

  Image credit:    Tom Coates

Image credit: Tom Coates

I loved that there was so much about feminism and politics, really. Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo took us through some of the best of Reductress, their satirical women’s magazine. I didn’t know about Natalie Wynn till XOXO, who runs the ContraPoints YouTube channel on social justice issues in a performative way. She’s got 4000+ Patreon supporters now. As a trans person going through her transition while she ran ContraPoints, she was doxed really badly, and learnt that she had to make a clear distinction between her public and private life if she wanted to keep sane, ‘it’s not Natalie but ContraPoints that’s being attacked.’ On politics, which she talks about in her videos, she had some noteworthy thoughts: “Politics is theatre, especially when a reality star is your President”, and “Fascism is a pageant, bring your own pageant if you are working in the media world – protect yourself”.

I’ve always believed that comedians have a really tough job – making people laugh is hard at the best of times, trying to make a stadium full of people laugh is even tougher! Day 2 of the conference began with Demi Adejuyigbe, a comedy writer who’s written for The Good Place and currently writes for The Late Late Show (Demi also did a comedy performance with a trumpet the previous day, which was totally hilarious. No, he doesn’t know how to play one!). He spoke about comedy, and how it is used as insulation, to keep from being vulnerable, referencing Hannah Gadsby and how “building a career on comedy isn’t humility, it’s humiliation.” Which, as Hannah did, made me think. He also spoke about Twitter (he’d been kicked off Twitter the previous day because he said something in jest to his best friend that went against Twitter’s rules – luckily he was soon allowed back!). Using that and other examples he spoke about how the things that make Twitter great also make it the ‘absolute worst invention of the 21st century’. Jack, are you listening?

Helen Rosner, food correspondent for the New Yorker, also spoke about feminism and being a woman writing about food in a world where criticism and trolls abound online. She told all women to stop apologising and stop using ‘hedging’ language: ‘but’, ‘sorry’ and so on. She ended by asking us to embrace our inner brilliance (it was a bit woo-woo but come on, encouraging oneself always feels good).

Then there were the people I was there to see: Ijeoma Oluo, whose work on race and gender you really should read. She was as good as I thought she’d be. Solid words on people asking her for advice about how to tackle race: “I am not the White People Whisperer.” “No one handed us a book on how race works.” She spoke about then importance of creating for the communities you want to reach: “If these communities are worth fighting for, they are worth creating for.” And why it is ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO PAY PEOPLE. Lastly, “There is nothing more uncreative than bigotry. It is literally a lack of imagination.” CLAPS AGAIN. And she’s a lovely person – even posed for a selfie with me!

And Hari Kondabolu, whose spoke about his 2017 documentary film A Problem With Apu, and his lived experiences being a brown person in America. He mentioned how there is no such thing as ‘equal opportunity offence’ – when you offend someone of colour, they can’t always insult you back because the consequences are too big.  

  Surprise Act! Lizzo closing out XOXO 2018. Image credit:    Tom Coates   .

Surprise Act! Lizzo closing out XOXO 2018. Image credit: Tom Coates.

And that was just the conference bit! XOXO, as I said, was programmed as a festival. There were tabletop games, RPGs, arcade games, ‘Art + Code’ which had more talks, and screenings of films later in the evening. Lizzo was the surprise closing act and she rocked!

I want to say a word about the organisation of this festival itself. The Slack channel for attendees was great and a way of making me feel more included, especially as an XOXO newbie and someone who wasn’t from the US, prior to the festival. They had childcare, which Intercom sponsored – and I saw loads of kids there. It’s something so many events miss. Having said that, XOXO listens to the community like no one else I’ve ever seen. They are super sensitive to people’s issues around gender especially (the pronoun pins to help people use the right pronouns during conversations were nice). The meetups the day before the official conference started were a fun way to meet people as well, though you were largely left to your own devices (they did help by sharing a list of meetups beforehand). And there was a lovely installation and collaborative art project called Dear Future Me being done by Alice Lee on the premises, which made it feel less massive a conference than it actually was.

  Letters to future selves, to be sent to people next year. Art installation by Alice Lee. Image credit:    Tom Coates

Letters to future selves, to be sent to people next year. Art installation by Alice Lee. Image credit: Tom Coates

If there are criticisms, it’s that the line-up was heavily US-oriented – but then they’re a US-based conference I suppose. And they literally had programming from 9am to 11pm on both days which makes for a LONG event for anyone, and if you’re not in the same West Coast time zone then you might find it physically hard to go to everything.

In October, the XOXO Andy’s announced that they were taking over management of Drip, Kickstarter’s programme to help independent creators make money – Kickstarter is funding them to start a separate company to do that, rather. If there is one challenge the internet faces today, it is making money without advertising. So much of our work at Storythings centres on that discussion, especially as we produce media and journalism ourselves. I’ll be watching what XOXO comes up with!

And as if on cue, XOXO has just published a video summary yesterday! Over and out.


Storythings Impact summary: September 2018

 Future Earth advisory committee co-chair Johan Rockström and former UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres presenting the Exponential Roadmap at the Global Climate Action Summit

Future Earth advisory committee co-chair Johan Rockström and former UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres presenting the Exponential Roadmap at the Global Climate Action Summit

With the re-launch of our site, we’re going to try a new way of talking about our work at Storythings. Instead of talking about what we’re doing, we want to talk about the impact our projects have had instead. This will help us focus on the change we want our stories to make, rather than just the stories ourselves.

We had an unusually busy September, so that’s a great place to start. We’ll experiment with the format for this summary every month - if you’d like more info on the projects, or to get in touch about a project, we’d love to hear from you.

Exponential Roadmap for the Global Climate Action Summit
We worked with our colleagues at Future Earth in Stockholm to produce this ground-breaking report for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on the 13th September. The report maps out the contributions of specific ideas to help the world achieve the reduction in CO2 emissions needed to meet the Paris target.

What we did
Storythings Editor Duncan Geere led the development and production of the editorial content for the report, and managed the final design and production of the report itself. We worked with regular Storythings collaborator Alex Parrott on the design, developing a swooping curve identity that represented the exponential reduction in emissions between now and 2050.

The impact so far
The report was launched by Johan Rockström and Christiana Figueres at the Global Climate Action Summit, the most important summit for cities and businesses since COP21 in Paris. It helped shape the conference narrative for the rest of the event, with the curve design used repeatedly at the GCAS event, as seen in the image of above. The Step Up Declaration has been signed by 21 leading companies, and the Speedwell declaration that specifically commits companies to supporting Carbon Law trajectories has now been signed by 305 CEOs.

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The Great American Read
This is a major cross platform project for PBS, asking Americans to vote for their favourite novel from a list of 100 books derived from audience surveys and expert advisors. Launching in May 2018, a season of TV shows have explored the joys of reading across diverse communities, and online content has been getting out the vote to find America’s favourite novel.

What we did
We’ve been working on this project since 2017, helping TV production company Nutopia develop the interactive elements of the initial pitch, and then taking on the role of Digital Executive Producer to scope, tender and manage the production of the digital campaign. We hired Postlight in NYC to develop the website on PBS’s Bento Platform, and Telescope in LA to provide the voting technologies across web, social platforms, SMS and Toll Free.

The impact so far
Voting opened in May 2018, and we worked with PBS’s social and digital teams to run the online voting campaign over summer before the main TV series started in September. With the vote ending on October 18th, there have been over 3million votes so far, and the show has sparked conversations all over the web, from the 50k members of the PBS Great American Read book club on Facebook to fan communities sharing memes to get out the vote for their favourite book. In a time when the internet can seem to divide us instead of bringing us together, it’s been really heartening to see a project unite people to share their love of books.

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Nevertheless Podcast

Nevertheless is a platform for the less-heard voices in ed-tech. Nevertheless started in late 2017 as a pilot between Pearson and Storythings, a trial-run of five episodes of a podcast around teaching and learning. We saw it as a space to explore the stories behind the technology we use for learning, ask difficult questions around edtech and learn more about the women in this space working to make the world better. We wanted it to be more than edtech evangelism.

What we did
We learned a lot from those first episodes and now we’re expanding. Season 2, launched in August, featured ten episodes, as well as videos, events and a set of beautiful posters drawn by talented female artists. The episodes covered deeper subjects, such as the resilience of school shooting survivors in the US, the mental health of YouTubers.

The impact so far
We’ve loved seeing photos of our posters in schools, offices and maker labs around the world. We were invited to include Nevertheless in a UK government initiative with Network Rail for an event at Kings Cross with local school-kids, where postcard versions of our posters were distributed to young people interested in engineering. We’ve also started a collaboration project with three schools in London, Virginia and Cape Town, helping them use podcasts to tell the stories of their communities for a future episode of Nevertheless, written and produced entirely by the students.

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Diffusion Network

The Diffusion Network is a coalition of six public-impact publications covering global health and science-related topics, working together to overcome the problem of distribution and syndication of good quality content. We do this by conducting small-scale media experiments, sharing resources - we reach out to potential syndicators as a network, and getting together to look at the issues around syndication and distribution, including by bringing in insights from experts from around the world. As we’re all small publications and newsrooms, working together amplifies our potential impact and reach in ways that we just couldn’t do alone.

What we did
In September we had our third Diffusion Network workshop over two days in Brighton, bringing together our partners to discuss the impact of our experiments so far, and to plan the next phase of the project. We heard from external speakers on audience development and podcasting, and heard reports from partners about what they’ve learnt from their experiments so far.

Impact so far
Since the public launch of Diffusion network in Spring, we’ve had 77 articles from our partners syndicated world-wide, with publications including Quartz, HuffPo, El Pais, Scroll in India and Guokr in China. We’ve signed syndication deals with many of these international partners, and are currently discussing deals with other partners in Germany and South America.

Humanizing Data: Highlights from EYEO 2018

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Earlier this year I was in Minneapolis for EYEO festival, a gathering of people who do interesting, creative things with data and technology. I’ve never been before, but I wanted to go for two reasons. The first is that the interface between technology and culture, and how they shape each other, is one of key areas that interests us at How We Get To Next. The second is that it was a chance to meet and hear from some of the people who’ve created work that we’re big fans of — people like Janelle Shane, Manoush Zomorodi, and Teju Cole.

I kicked off the week with a workshop about hand-drawn data visualization, presented by Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi, who some of you will know as the creators of the Dear Data project. Posavec and Lupi spent a year sending each other weekly postcards that depicted some aspect of their lives in data. The results are now part of the collection at MoMA in New York. In the workshop, they argued persuasively that drawing not only helps you think differently about a dataset, but it also forces you to physically spend time with your data, letting you notice things that you might not notice with a glance at a spreadsheet. You can see my resulting bug-like visualization of the apps on my phone here.

In the evening, Manoush Zomorodi talked about her new podcast. Most people know her as the host of Note to Self, WNYC’s “guide to an accelerating world,” but she recently quit alongside her producer Jen Poyant to launch a new project: ZigZag. ZigZag is about capitalism, journalism, and women in technology, and will be part of one of our favorite podcast networks, Radiotopia. But it’s also going to be a part of Civil, a decentralized experiment in publishing on the blockchain.

Nathaniel Raymond, founding Director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, talked about the ways in which attempts to use big data to help people can make natural disasters and armed conflicts worse. From cuneiform tablet tracking slave sales, through the punch card and the holocaust, to the role of Facebook messenger in the Rohingya genocide, Raymond carefully walked through a wide range of examples of technology enabling some of the worst episodes in human history. The Signal Code, which articulates five human rights to information during crisis, is his attempt to “reboot” humanitarian doctrine for the information age.

Many of the talks at EYEO revolved around machine learning, and two of my favorites were Rebecca Fiebrink and Janelle Shane. The former showcased how the technology can support artists’ creative processes, unlocking new possibilities and ways of representing the world, and how it’s becoming increasingly easy for artists to take advantage of such opportunities with tools like Wekinator, which she created. Shane ran through some of her recent experiments in machine learning, noting the areas in which the technology can struggle (like when trying to detect sheep, for example).

This enthusiasm for the creative potential of machine learning was also tempered by warnings. The clearest was from EYEO curator Jer Thorp, who was chairing a panel on how artists weigh the creative possibilities of these tools and platforms against the problematic ethics of the corporations that make them. Using facial recognition algorithms in art, he said, was “like using a taser to power a pinball machine.”

Finally, one of my favorite talks of the week came from novelist and photographer Teju Cole, who discussed how he’s used social media to deepen his artistic work. He showcased his Twitter projects of recent years, as well as his current fascination with Instagram. He discussed how the “real-time” nature of these platforms benefits his work, but also on the ways in which it’s harmed by hyperconnectivity and the attention economy.

If you’re wishing you were there to see all of this live, then worry not. All of the talks I mentioned above, as well as the rest of the program, were filmed and will be published on the web in the coming months. But if you can’t wait, then have a dig through the EYEO archive on Vimeo. You’ll be sure to find something fascinating.