Call for Writers: Identity & Financial Inclusion in Brazil & Colombia

Identities of the World

Storythings is looking for writers to work on 1000-1200 word pieces about identities and financial inclusion in Brazil and Colombia, as a paid project. You will ideally be a freelance writer based in Brazil (for Brazil stories) or Colombia (for Colombia stories). You’ll have a background in writing non-fiction pieces for online audiences, and experience in covering social interest and culture stories.

The pieces that you write will be part of Identities of the World, a series on identity and financial inclusion around the world. Our first series featured stories from India, and the next one will feature Brazil and Colombia. 

You are expected to find interviewees and stories that have an original and distinct take on the subject, which should hold up to scrutiny. The stories should be emotive - we don’t want dry descriptions of financial programmes or statistics for paragraphs. We want to really be able to understand your characters’ lives, their complexities, how easy or hard access to credit makes their lives and how it affects their sense of identity, any hacks they have to make their lives easier financially, what their most important relationships are financially and why. Please read the current set of stories, set in India, for a sense of what we're looking for.

We want to see writing that is compelling, well-researched, and that resonates emotionally with as wide an audience as possible. We want readers to sit up and say 'I didn't know that'. 

To give you an idea of story expectations, Storythings typically publishes editorial content that is more magazine-like in its writing, rather than news-like. We’re not looking for the latest breaking stories in the style often published by large newsrooms — we’re looking for longer reads with relatable characters that people will want to return to.

Each writer will be expected to submit two stories by the end of August 2019. You’ll also need to be available for calls with the UK team till the editing process is complete at the end of October.

If you’re interested in writing for us, we’ll want to see some of your published culture and society-related stories. To apply, please send 3 to 5 links to published non-fiction work you’ve written in English in the last two years, or a link to an online portfolio with these details, by email to anjali@storythings.com. Proficiency in Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish (Colombia) is expected, as you will need to interview locals for the stories. The deadline for this application is June 30th, 2019. We will schedule interview calls with selected applicants the week commencing July 1st, with a decision made by July 10th.

Storythings is a UK-based content studio that produces stories in many shapes and forms. Whether it is a film, podcast, data visualisation, newsletter, live event or 2000-word article, we make all kinds of stories for clients like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, Experian and Pearson Education — and for ourselves.

We’d love for you to share this post with people who fit this brief!

Go With Me On This...

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Client: Pearson

Project: Go With Me On This

We’ve just wrapped up the first season of Go With Me On This, one of three podcasts we produce for Pearson. It’s a different kind of podcast from Nevertheless and the forthcoming Standing On The Shoulders, but no less impactful.

Go With Me On This is a debate style podcast that, through its format, delivers new insights on topics and issues that surround the U.K education system.

Hosted by the wonderful Ndidi Okezie from Pearson and journalist Laura McInerney, each episode sees one of the hosts trying their hardest to convince everyone in the studio that an idea they have about education is not quite as crazy as it first seems.

It’s been a big hit with the target audiences, who mostly work across the board in education. It was featured in iTunes ‘New and Noteworthy’ section and peaked in the Podcast Charts at No. 3 in education. I think its success is down to a couple of factors.

The first is the hosts. They’re naturals. They spark off each other brilliantly. Most importantly they’re not afraid to deliver strong personal opinions about a sector they are genuinely passionate about. The conversation can get heated.

We’ve had episodes on controversial subjects, like “Stopping Knife Crime: Ndidi thinks that schools cannot be expected to solve knife crime” and “Parental Engagement: Laura thinks that parents should leave the educating of their child to the school” and “Careers Education: Laura thinks that Careers education is not a good use of school’s time.”

Remember, this is a branded podcast, and you might think brands would want to shy away from difficult subjects. But we’ve been working with Pearson for a couple of years, and they let us go to places other branded podcasts wouldn’t dare to go. They put their trust in the Storythings editorial team right at the beginning of our relationship, and over they years that trust has gone from strength to strength. That freedom releases us from one of the biggest challenges of making branded podcasts - how do you make it feel authentic?

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The second thing is the format. One host has to convince the other host, and their two guests, that their idea is worth considering. It’s a three against one scenario. This format came from my first meeting with the hosts, who have been friends for years. We were discussing ideas to cover, and Laura came out with a statement about the parental role in education that genuinely shocked Ndidi. Here were two people, great friends, who share many beliefs on education, but had opinions at opposing ends of the spectrum. Again, I go back to the word ‘trust’. When two people trust each other you can have serious and heated debate without it tipping over the edge or becoming click-bait. So that’s the tension that we built the show around.

Our audience frequently comment on social media that the three to one balance makes it almost impossible to win and that we should make it two against two. But they’re missing the point. The three to one balance is what ensures we are finding complex problems that don’t have simple solutions, whilst having fascinating conversations about subjects our hosts feel hugely passionate about.

Our social media campaign has helped build deep engagement too. We’ve launched accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter seems to be where the best engagement is happening. We’ve been running Twitter debates with the hosts and guests after each of the shows and it’s got lively, almost too lively at times.

Finally, we’ve been asked to produce a live version of the podcast for a couple of education conferences over the summer, which is perfect positioning for the brand. We’re also thinking about what a schools version would sound like. The search is on for the next generation of Lauras and Ndidis!

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Subscribe on:

Spotify

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Or wherever you get your podcasts.

What is The Story Academy?

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The Story Academy is a year long program designed to open doors to a creative career for young people. The focus will be on 18-26 year olds from less advantaged backgrounds and not in education or employment. It’s something close to the hearts of the three directors of Storythings. We all came from less advantaged backgrounds, we didn’t all go to university, yet we managed find our way around institutional prejudice to build good careers in creative fields. One thing we had in our favour was the era in which we grew up. We all benefited from things like student grants, the Enterprise Allowance Scheme and cheap rents, all of which played a big part in giving us the time and space to develop our skills and early careers. Those opportunities don’t exist today so we want to give young people the same chance we had.

There is no pathway when you are off rails
As a young person building a career in a creative industry there’s an assumption that there is only one pathway. You have to have a degree in your chosen field before anyone will bother to look at your CV. But what if you struggled at school? What if standardised learning wasn’t for you or you faced personal difficulties that made school and further education challenging. A government report from 2017 noted that 92% of creative industry jobs are occupied by people from more advantaged backgrounds. So even if you have that degree you’ve only got an 8% chance if you are not from one of those backgrounds. The report also noted that barriers to accessing job and careers opportunities, included financial barriers, lack of networks, knowledge and information barriers, geographic barriers, and attitudinal barriers. 

There are thousands of young people across the UK who have creative talents but are not in education or employment. Without qualifications they feel lost at sea, they’re off-rails and they can’t see beyond all those barriers. They have a talent but they don’t have the education to open doors, they don’t have the mentors to show them the way, and they don’t have the network to support their dreams. The attitudinal barrier mentioned above is reinforced by personal financial pressures and those close to them suggesting they get a ‘proper job’. I know how that feels because I was in that position at 18. So the three Storythings directors, myself, Matt and Anjali, want to be the people I needed to meet when my life was off-rails and going nowhere. 

How the Story Academy will remove the barriers

By using our networks, our experience and our desire to change people's lives we want to remove those barriers for young people. We will work with different organisations across the UK to find young people (18+) who have talent but are not afforded the same opportunity as people from different backgrounds. We specifically want to find young people outside of London, from smaller towns and cities that don’t have the support and infrastructure London does. A lot of people working in creative careers either came from big cities or went to university in well connected cities. Unless you’ve gown up in places like Ellesmere Port, Sterling or Dundalk, and not spent 3 or more years in further education, it’s hard to imagine how little infrastructure there is to support a creative career. 

So here’s how we will remove each of those barriers:

  • We'll remove the knowledge barrier by giving them an education in their chosen fields through masterclasses and paid training courses. 

  • We’ll remover the financial barrier by giving them funds to produce a piece of work to showcase their talents and getting them into a paid internship. 

  • We’ll remove the geographical barriers by working with organisations all over the UK to find, support and develop talent outside of the big cities. 

  • We’ll remove the network barriers by introducing them to our national and global networks. 

  • We’ll remove the attitudinal barrier by giving them a mentor. 

  • And finally we’ll get them into a six month paid internship in a creative organisation. 


What we need
To make all this happen we need your help. We’ll be investing a percentage of our annual profits into The Story Academy and well as a lot of our time. but we need your help. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • We're giving clients to opportunity to sponsor an academy place when we engage with them on new projects.

  • We’re looking for creative companies who are prepared to offer six month paid internships.

  • We’re looking for anyone running training courses in creative fields. (video/audio/animations/design/coding and more) to offer spaces for academy members.

  • We're looking for mentors. Thanks to everyone who has offered so far. 

  • And finally we’re looking for organisations working with young people across the UK that might want to talk to us about academy places. 

If you want to support The Story Academy please get in touch.  

Launching Identities of the World

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Client: Experian

Project: Identities of the World

We are incredibly proud to launch our newest project, Identities of the World, in partnership with Experian, today. 

When we finished working on The Identities Project and The ID Question last year, Experian reached out to us, via the brilliant John Willshire and Mark Earls, to explore expanding on some of the themes we'd touched on. The topic of identity is very complex, and it is changing rapidly with the advances of technology. In a country like India, for example, with the world's largest biometric programme Aadhaar underway, proving who you are, and how that identity relates to various papers, mobile numbers and bank accounts, can mean that reasons like 'insufficient data' can mean people's lives come to a standstill, or become significantly disadvantaged, at worst. Identity as a subject fits Storythings' passion to delve into complex storytelling issues perfectly. 

We discussed with Experian ways of talking about this subject that focussed particularly on the link between financial inclusion and identity: how the lack of (or proximity) to access to credit can make or break lives, how people are finding their own solutions to building their identities, how the system works in reality and how it can be better. 

Karam Rahman and his family in India, featured in Episode 1. More at: identitiesoftheworld.com

Karam Rahman and his family in India, featured in Episode 1. More at: identitiesoftheworld.com

We commissioned three brilliant journalists in India to find some of these stories, by speaking to people who live through being financially excluded in some way or another. Today we are releasing the first of these stories. We hope it makes you think - and don't forget to come back and read the rest, including a short animated video summarising what our protagonists face in these stories. 

Our first story is by journalist Shalini Singh. Shalini was a Nieman Foundation Fellow at Harvard University in 2018, is a regular contributor to the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) and a founding trustee of CounterMedia Trust, the nonprofit that owns PARI. You can find her on Twitter here.

Our second story is by Jency Samuel, a journalist based in Chennai.

Our third story is by Priyanka Borpujari. Priyanka was a Fulbright Program Fellow in 2016, walked on National Geographic’s Out of Eden Walk in India with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paul Salopek in 2018, and has won fellowships from the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Bosch Stiftung Foundation.

The stories were edited by Duncan Geere

We're incredibly proud to have the opportunity to work with Experian on this, and we hope you learn as much from the stories as we have!

We Made Some Posters (and they're lovely)

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Client: Pearson
Project: Nevertheless

We’ve been working with Pearson since summer 2017 developing their Nevertheless brand. What started out as podcast about diversity in tech is now a platform that includes podcasts, films, live events and learning resources such as these beautiful posters.

The posters celebrate the work of role models from the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM as it’s often referred to). We worked closely with partners and communities from around the world to choose the women featured and used illustrators from Europe, the Middle East, China, South Africa and South America - a truly global project.

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The posters have been shared by schools, colleges and universities all around the world, as well as by science organisations, and media companies such as Nat Geo. They are also being shared widely by people who love design and illustration. It’s been great seeing photos of them on people’s walls appear on Twitter.

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The posters have played a big part in building the Nevertheless brand and complement the visual identity we produced for Nevertheless. We’ve been posting copies out to people who have asked on social media and handing them out at events. In a digital world, people LOVE and appreciate analogue gifts like these. The next step is getting them translated in seven languages, which we’ll be working on in the coming weeks.