Friday, March 20, 2009

Update: Beyond Good Intentions

Shortly after my previous post about Beyond Good Intentions, founder Tori Hogan responded to the email I had sent to her with some more detailed answers. I thought it would be best to share a little bit of what she wrote.

Hogan first came up with the idea after her frustrations with her own work in international aid made her realize that she either had to quit or find ways to improve the system. While Beyond Good Intentions was originally meant to be a book, she notes that circumstances, including a run in with Al Gore who stressed the importance of reaching out to an audience visually, led her to turn to film instead.

This is an important understanding as the world becomes more visual and interactive. Social media and the Internet have made it almost a necessity for companies, organizations and even media outlets to engage their audience beyond simple text and Web pages. Don't get me wrong--the written word will always be of great significance (I wouldn't have been a journalism major if I didn't truly believe this) but when it comes to really getting a message across visual aids have the tendency to be much more compelling. Especially in regards to international conflicts and issues that need world attention. I can read about a child in Sudan who has been orphaned and living in a refugee camp and think, "How awful!" but seeing it first hand tugs at the heartstrings with a bit more vigor.

Film also works as a better medium for this type of project because it really gets the dialogue going by seeing and hearing individuals talk about their approaches in different episodes. Reading this in one lump sum, while extremely interesting and valuable, just might not get the conversation flowing as easily.

Hogan had even originally intended to make the film feature-length but changed her mind:
Originally the film was going to be feature-length. But I began to realize that to make an impact, I needed young people to be watching it. I wanted to get a dialogue about aid started among the rising generation of changemakers and we decided that short formate on-line "episodes" would be a much more effective way to reach them.

Again, delivering the issue all at once might be effective, but it might not be the most effective method of starting a dialogue.

Hogan told me via email that the episodes will also be available via YouTube and that she is open to embracing outlets beyond the organization's Web site. She did not mention if anything is currently in the works or of any outlets she'd like to reach out to. Regardless, spreading the project will be a better route to go in order to reach maximum impact.

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