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.


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.