The Diploma


Defining moments, decision points, and principled responses

ethics presentation clip

Advocacy Journalism: COM563 Final Presentation

My final project in this graduate program nudged me to consider the issue of advocacy journalism, especially with the ongoing uproar of the Presidential primaries. When the media holds such sway, and the public hold such deep distrust for the media as a reliable source of information, but yet respond so fervently to the emotional appeals and shock value provided by the media, where is the voice of reason to be found?

The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics offers some key pointers to professional communicators:

  • Seek Truth and Report It. Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  • Minimize Harm. Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect. 
  • Act Independently. The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public. 
  • Be Accountable and Transparent. Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.

Advocacy journalism demands that we take a stand. It demands that we stay willing to thoughtfully explore other ideas, beliefs and arguments while respectfully articulating our own. Advocacy journalism asks us to provide more in-depth information than sound bites, to hold deeper principles than those of playing to a mob mentality for the sake of ratings. It asks us to be principled.

Pick Up Those Sticks

Pick-Up SticksPicking up the sticks of manipulation

Michael Parenti in his article Methods of Media Manipulation describes several types of manipulation used to “faithfully reflect the dominant ideology, seldom straying into territory that might cause discomfort to those who hold political and economic power, including those who own the media or advertise in it” (1997, p. 5):

  • suppression by omission
  • attack and destroy target
  • labeling
  • face-value transmission
  • false balancing
  • framing

These are clearly unethical practices in journalism. Multiple studies cited in Journalism Ethics in a Global Communication Era: The Framing Journalism Perspective describe the consequences of such practices: ” . . . people rarely learned much from news and what they learned was quickly forgotten . . .[and] . . . News failed to adequately inform the public on most issues even during political campaigns when more people paid attention to news and had greater concern about politics” (Davis & Kent, 2013, p. 71). Just a quick glimpse into what is featured on TV, radio, newspapers and streaming in social media feeds paints an even more appalling picture in real time of what this looks like.

DSCN2120 (2) - CopyThe Fourth Estate

Why is the media covering stories and reporting in a fashion that foments discord and discontent? Why do journalists take an insular stance to what should be a crucial role of investigating and reporting on the mosaic of people, places and institutions that comprise a democratic society?

Davis & Kent put forth the notion that journalists hold tight to the belief that: “Journalism . . . is a Fourth Estate, . . . [and] . . .  must remain completely independent of all other institutions so that it can serve the public as an objective observer of politics, business, religion, medicine, law, and education . . .  Many journalists were surprised in 2007 when James Fallows, a prominent journalist, argued that news media were undermining democracy,” (p. 72).

Perhaps, Fallow’s criticism should not come as a great surprise.

In Ethical Orientations of Journalists Around the Globe: Implications From a Cross-National Survey,the authors note that the social transaction theory has been studied for decades, but very rarely applied to the field of journalism. The reality, according to their findings, is that ” . . .journalists’  ethical outlooks are . . . related to the larger structural system in which they operate . . . [and] . . . on the way journalists around the globe approach ethical dilemmas” (Plaisance, et al., 2007, p. 654).

The researchers urge examination of “truth-telling, no harm to the innocent, empowerment and human dignity . . . (p. 654), dovetailing with Davis & Kent’s position that “Framing theory and research directly challenge the notion that news stories can and should be objective . . . there is no objective social reality that can be described using traditional reporting practices . . . the social world is constructed and this construction is constantly being negotiated,” (p. 73).

Is objective framing possible – or even desirable?

On the face of it, it would seem that framing is necessary and inescapable. Journalists — indeed, all of us — live within systems in which we both observe and participate. This makes objectivity impractical, and virtually impossible to achieve. And, so perhaps we have found the flaw in the Fourth Estate’s insular approach to reporting, a flaw that is seemingly paving the path to an undermined democracy. It doesn’t do to frame one’s messages in solitude.

Parenti’s earlier description of framing was a recognition of the tactic as  manipulation, calling it the “most effective propaganda . . . bending the truth rather than breaking it,” (1997, p. 6).  The damage that occurs because of this truth-bending is rapidly apparent to any person taking the time to compare versions and perspectives of life’s happenings.

In the article What Caused the Irish Potato Famine? by Mark Thornton, the duplicity that still accompanies the “framing” of this piece of history is appalling, as the English government continues to try and justify their policies and actions in maintaining hegemony over the Irish people.  The truth is slowly coming out. Memorialized in many different ways, the story serves as a new way frame the devastation of poverty.

DSCN3547DSCN3564Davis & Kent do mention the troubling concern that those who attempt to take on the status quo by reframing the information are likely to be “. . . criticized as troublemakers, radicals or even traitors . . . [making it] . . .  especially difficult and unlikely for journalists to offer frames that effectively contradict or question the status quo during times of crisis or controversy,” (p. 74).

Their suggestion for ways to address these troubles is to take a public relations and marketing approach, asking citizens to provide feedback on how framing is perceived and used, and to provide alternate frames more in line with local issues and events (p. 77). However, just in my own anecdotal research and conversations, I would say that citizens feel just as constrained and threatened by the same troubles professional journalists face for speaking outside the accepted box, disturbing the status quo, and may be reticent to share those views.

So, where does that leave professional communicators? I’m a big advocate of tending to your own backyard and getting straight with yourself before you take on the wider concerns. Determine your ethical frame and then start practicing it in your daily walk of life first.

Davis, D.K., Kent, K. (2013). Journalism Ethics in a Global Communication Era: The Framing Journalism Perspective. China Media Research, (9)2, 71-82. Retrieved from:
Michael Parenti. (1997). Methods of Media Manipulation [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Plaisance, P.L., Skewes, E. A., & Hanitzch, T. (2012). Ethical Orientations of Journalists Around the Globe: Implications From a Cross-National Survey. Communication Research, 39(5), 641-661. DOI: 10.1177/0093650212450584
All photos (c) S. Blood, 2014

It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me

This week our ethics class was asked to consider how a code of ethics may be “fundamentally flawed” because of the mismatch between moral choice and action in a business world driven by competition and hierarchy. Regardless of any organization’s formal statement of business ethics or practices, the reality is revealed in its organizational culture. Culture functions rather like an iceberg, mostly operating below the radar, and causing a rude awakening when one runs aground the hidden notions and unstated beliefs of an operationalized code of conduct.

Wood and Rimmer state, “The concept of ‘commitment’ to codes is not a simple idea that can be translated into a solitary quantitative measure. Rather it is a complex idea that can be approached from a number of different directions (2003, p. 191).”

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit for your viewing pleasure and further consideration this lovely example of what Wood and Rimmer are discussing:


          Elizabeth: Wait! You have to take me to shore. According to the Code of the Order of the Brethren…

          Barbossa: First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate’s code to apply and you’re      not. And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.

As Wood and Rimmer point out (p. 191), “Having a code is not enough to ensure commitment to the code. It must be intertwined into the daily life of the organisation. It should not be an ornament of the organisation, but the catalyst for an entire program of business ethics within organisations that engenders better practices in the marketplace.”

Entertainment factor notwithstanding, is the PoC segment really so far off from how organizations tend to operate in today’s world? A formal code of ethics, frequently referred to, called upon, held up as a measuring rod . . . but used only in the most general of ways when applied to one’s daily conduct, decisions, actions in life?

Apparently, some other professional organizations agree with the guidelines idea so succinctly stated by Barbossa:

  • Emphasis on enforcement of the Code has been eliminated. But, the PRSA Board of Directors retains the right to bar from membership or expel from the Society any individual who has been or is sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that fails to comply with the Code.
  • The RTDNA Code of Ethics does not dictate what journalists should do in every ethical predicament; rather it offers resources to help journalists make better ethical decisions – on and off the job – for themselves and for the communities they serve.

Enron provides some notable case examples of just why it is important to have a match between a code of ethics and an accountable code of conduct. In Management Communication Quarterly (August 2003), a case study on Enron’s collapse, points out a few key issues that companies ought to consider:

  • “Individuals and groups have morally based obligations and duties to others and to larger ethical, moral, and legal codes, standards and traditions” (p. 60).
  • Organizations have a responsibility to operate according social norms and standards, and to “support the general health and well-being of society” (p. 61).
  • Leadership provides the moral model by which an organization’s operations and culture are defined and informed.
  • Dissent and opposing views and opinions must not only be tolerated but attended to in order to proactively identify and address issues of concern.

Enron’s “aggressive growth and rapid exploitation of new opportunities and technologies” (p. 70) without leadership’s consistent and thoughtful attention to “fulfilling . . . responsibilities by actively modeling or communicating a set of broad social values associated with ethical and moral conduct” (p. 71), set the stage for eventual collapse. Periods of turbulent change and growth challenge individuals and organizations to stay the course and adhere to the rudder of ethical constraints at the best of times; however, Enron’s leaders displayed an astonishing capacity for hedonism, clearly privileging “norms and values regarding abuse of power, privilege, deception, wealth, greed, and rule breaking” (p. 72).

A final thought on ethics and conduct, from the American Advertising Federation code: “The one constant is transparency, and the need to conduct ourselves, our businesses, and our relationships with consumers in a fair, honest, and forthright manner.”

Words, anyone? We are only as ethical as our actual conduct expresses.

Greg Wood and Malcolm Rimmer (2003), “Codes of Ethics: What Are They Really and What Should They Be?” International Journal of Value-Based Management Volume 16, Number 2 (2003), 181-195, DOI: 10.1023/A:1024089509424
Matthew W. Seeger and Robert R. Ulmer, “Explaining Enron: Communication and Responsible Leadership,” Management Communication Quarterly, 17 (1): 58-84

Balance: Gotta Have It

0102161254a_0001Deontology generally focuses on the process people use to make ethical decisions, with the general assumption that an ethical process will, by definition, lead to ethical results.              (COM 563 — Lesson 3 Overview)

Question: Can an exclusive focus on the process of decision-making — to the exclusion of a focus on consequences — yield ethical decisions?

Answer: Nope. The question itself suggests a lack of balance in determining the ethical decision. In fact, an exclusive focus on anything generally (in my experience, personally and professionally) leads to poor consequences, a lack of balanced results, predictably causing (at best) discomfort, and (at worst) serious harm.

But, let’s see what the experts say:

DSCN0215 (2)Duty for duty’s sake

Kant’s “categorical imperative” is defined as “the unconditional moral principle that one’s behavior should accord with universalizable maxims which respect persons as ends in themselves . . . [and] . . .  the obligation to do one’s duty for its own sake and not in pursuit of further ends” (retrieved from

Kant’s primary argument against consequence-based ethical decisions is summed up by Johnson’s essay, “Kant’s Moral Philosophy” (retrieved from

When we do something because it is our moral duty, Kant argued, we are motivated by the thought that, insofar as we are rational beings, we must act only as this fundamental law of (practical) reason prescribes, a law that would prescribe how any rational being in our circumstances should act. Whatever else such a law might be, it is, in virtue of being a principle of reason, true of all rational agents. 

In other words, for Kant “process” can lead you to places other than obeying the universalizable maxim. However, universalizable maxims are anything but universalizable and do not take into account the multitude of factors impacting decisions, end results and consequences.

tracks in cracked mudBogged down in detail

For example, if the universal maxim is that all people deserve access to affordable, high quality health care, then the logical decision is to legislate universal health care.

However, any piece of legislation must consider the implementation of the law — the how, who, where, what and when — for good or ill across multiple spheres, public and private. It is in the debates on the details of implementation, though, that necessary action to “respect persons as ends in themselves” can get bogged down by quibbling over details and action steps.

For Rawl’s, a simple solution is to “draw a veil of ignorance” over the issue when making ethical decisions. The veil of ignorance is necessary to preserve “a just society . . . [with] . . . equal citizenship . . . [and] . . . rights secured by justice . . . [that is] . . . not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests” (p. 4). From Rawl’s perspective, this approach “ensures that no one is advantaged or disadvantaged in the choice of principles by the outcome of natural chance or the contingency of social circumstances” (p. 12).

While Rawl’s theory is a lovely one, it again evades the reality of consequences. When the choice has been made, how does it play out? What is the impact, and on whom? These are important considerations when developing policies and programs that touch on the lives of a diverse population.

That being said, the reality in the policy arena is that policy makers can hand down expectations based on new laws (or revisions to current laws) that are not morally good. The public alludes to this when they criticize “pork barrel” budget privisos, or lobbyist-driven legislation. It then rests on the implementing agencies to bring to life the law in ways that are still morally good, even if they originated out of morally bad reasoning or actions.

balanced tower of rocksThe convolutions of hope 

Ross offers hope for the struggling implementer of poor policy, pointing out that “no act is right unless done from some good motive, such as either sense of duty or benevolence (p. 2) and that “the only acts that are morally good are those that proceed from a good motive” (p.4). In a very real sense, he moves the conversation from one of pure theory to one of action, stating that considering “the doing of a right act may be a morally bad action, and that the doing of a wrong act may be a morally good action; for ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ refer entirely to the thing done, ‘morally good’ and ‘morally bad’ entirely to the motive from which it is done (p. 7). A convoluted mouthful of hope, to be sure.

On the other hand, Ross also reminds us that “An act is not right because it . . . produces good results different from itself; it is right because . . . [the]. . . . production is right in itself, apart from any consequence” (p. 47).

So, where does that leaves us?

With the usual “it depends” and the impulse to make snarky comments about the ongoing fifty shades of grey notion when it comes to these sorts of discussions.

Like I said at the beginning — balance. Gotta have it.


Johnson, Robert, “Kant’s Moral Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 3-22, 60-65, 136-142.

W.D. Ross, The Right and the Good, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), ch 1 & 2



Parent Voices: Powerful Influences for Powerful Outcomes

When the goal is positive, growth-promoting outcomes for families, it only makes sense (in my mind, anyhow) to talk to families about their experiences, their hopes, dreams and fears. Where are things working well? How can that be capitalized? Where are things feeling stuck? What needs some WD-40 to make ’em go more smoothly?

These are critical conversations to have up front, long before programs and curriculum are designed. Long before laws, administrative codes and policies are written. And they need to continue. In a variety of formats and ways that support the widest array of voices being heard. One area that I struggled with in a former job was in getting buy-off at the leadership level to support authentic parent engagement. So, when this particular assignment came around, I decided to step up on my soapbox and start speaking my piece . . .

Background Information

Both the public and private sector funders are highly interested but inadequately invested in early learning evidence-based programs and approaches which claim high return on investments (ROI).  This all too frequently translates into programs design being driven by research strategies to prove efficacy; and worse yet, provided limited resources and funding when moving from pilot to replication phase. Scarcity models rely on a “one-size-fits-all” philosophy which leaves no room for the variety of interests, needs, strengths and challenges individual parents, families and communities bring to the table. However, research points to the value and importance of supporting parent participation in designing and implementing strong, effective programs and policies that support healthy, successful families and children.

Some research-based tidbits on the why this is important . . .  

Including Parents in Evaluation of a Child Development Program: Relevance of Parental Involvement, Hamida Amirali Jinnah & Lynda Henley Walters, University of Georgia, 2008.

“Parents have the major responsibility and control of a child’s development, and their decisions concerning success and failure should be considered important,” (Bernheimer, Gallimore, & Weisner, 1990; Guralnick, 1989).

“Understanding parent views (positive and negative) can be used to develop more responsive services and prevent program rejection,” (Upshur, 1991; Grela & Illerbrun, 1998).

“We also can learn more about the intended and unintended effects of a program from parents,” (Zigler & Balla, 1982).

“Finally, consumer satisfaction data collection from parents can be used to convince other audiences (e.g., funding agencies, administrators) of the usefulness of a program,” (Scheirer, 1978).

Some research on how parent voice informs program development and continuous quality improvement . . .  

NATURALISTIC EVALUATION OF PROGRAMS. PARENTS’ VOICE IN PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS (Based on the grounded theory strategy, this study explores the participants’ subjective representations, being a useful source of information for future development of similar programs. Ştefan COJOCARU, Daniela COJOCARU. Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iaşi, Romania, 2011.)

“The importance of program responsiveness to parents’ interests, concerns, preoccupations is mentioned very often in literature, alongside the concern that these programs do not disseminate the specialists’ preconceived (meaning “previously established”) opinions as to what the contents and the appropriate manner of delivery should be, but instead to illustrate the philosophy of parent participation in shaping the contents and the training process, as a guarantee of the final aim of the program . . .”

Additionally (same study): “. . . naturalistic evaluation is characterized by a high capacity of adaptation and flexibility in the entire process, from data collection to the negotiation of conclusions and recommendations. This flexibility of data collection process makes naturalistic evaluation preferable especially during formative evaluations because “the naturalistic paradigm is ideal especially in formative evaluations due to the possibility of changing its design in response to the new information necessary for the progress of evaluation and for improving the program,” (Williams, 1986, p. 87).

Target audience State agency directors, affiliated legislators, Governor’s office staff, mid-level executive management.
Anticipated setting In-person, conference room, as part of a packed agenda. Limited capacity for cutting-edge media and technology.
Presentation title Parent Voices: Powerful Influences for Powerful Outcomes
Purpose of proposal and presentation To get legislative and top executive funding and resource support for required legislative agenda of parent participation in agency rule-making (WACs), program development and program funding decisions.
Climate or current state Parent participation has been tokenized or seen as adequately addressed by legislators and agency staff as “parents themselves.” The reality is that the agency does not adequately involve “consumer” parents – and especially consumer parents in low-income situations – in developing rules, programs, and making funding decisions.
Problem you wish to solve The general problem is that state agencies don’t engage citizens in a meaningful way to develop policies, programs and make funding decisions. The specific problem is that the agency that is required to involve parents in program and policy simply does not – partly because they are inadequately funded by the legislature and partly because there is not agency leadership buy-in of this strategy. Consequently, programs and policies meet with resistance and lack of support. This would improve with parent participation in every aspect of the agency’s work through a variety of mechanisms and methods with feedback loops and implementation reflective of the wisdom and experience that parents have to share regarding their interests, needs and desires for strong, successful families and children.
Statement on the solution Families come in all shapes and sizes, with different interests, strengths and challenges. Effective and meaningful parent participation requires not only funding and resource support, but leadership that drives agency action. It’s not enough to say that parent participation is important – top level leaders must live that promise, as well.
Desired outcomes An economic, geographic, educational, occupational, political and religious diversity of parent participation in determining policies, programs and funding which ultimately more closely match the needs and interests of parents.
Background info RCW 43.215 finds that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and decision makers and that parents and legal guardians should be involved in the development of policies, programs and budget decisions affecting their children.
Value statement – why is this important Setting the stage for a healthy, successful adult life has its start in the earliest years. Citizen-paid (both through taxes and private dollars) programs and services should be designed in a way that respects and preserves the ability of parents and legal guardians to direct the education, development, and upbringing of their children; and that recognizes and honors cultural and linguistic diversity.


The Roller Rink of Advertising

skatesI’ve never been much of a team sports fan, so this project challenged me to tackle it seriously. After all — we can’t always focus on only those things that interest us. After musing on well-known sports teams, I decided I wanted a team with a strong social justice bent or that did “really cool things” in the world. So, where does a savvy girl go for help parsing that puzzle? Facebook, of course. My friends had some groovy ideas:

The Oly Rollers a women’s flat track roller derby league in Olympia WA

Special Olympics Unified Sports teams promoting social inclusion for people with disabilities

Boise Bombers competitive quad rugby team in Boise, ID

Ascend Afghanistan an all-female, all-Afghan team climbing Afghanistan’s highest mountain

Stars of David co-ed Jewish softball team in Olympia WA

What a tough decision! Each team had compelling human interest and certainly a tie to social justice. And while I certainly resonated with the Boise Bomber’s choice of music on the website, have always wanted to summit a pinnacle in the clouds, have fond memories of church league softball (until I killed my knee) and treasure my school experiences volunteering with the Special Olympics, I went with the Oly Rollers. Their support of a young girl’s desire to make a difference raising money for Relay for Life in loving support of her friend grabbed me, but there are many other things to recommend the team, as well:

Sports team name The Oly Rollers
Type of sport Women’s flat track roller derby league
Background and historyHow long they have been in existence, value and relevance to the community Established in 2006, the Oly Rollers are a skater-owned and operated 501(c)3. Team members range in age from 14 – 50 and are students, teachers, mothers, soldiers, engineers, fire fighters — in a nutshell, energetic women who not only devote time to the “betterment of the league” and “promotion of the sport” but also give actively back to the community.
Mascot:What is the name of their mascot? What does it represent? (animal, warrior, etc.) The team doesn’t have a mascot, per se — however, they have a favorite cause, inspired by one team member’s 11-year-old daughter. The cause is Race for the Cure. This young girl has a classmate battling cancer and wanted to help. She was too young to participate in the race — so the Oly Rollers stepped in to help raise funds.
Relevance:What makes this sports team special and unique? Why would fans want to go to their games? The Oly Rollers actively work as a team within the sport and in the wider community to “grow as a stable organization of inspiring, self-confident athletes and positive female role models.” They also have a reputation for “providing quality, eye-catching, high adrenaline entertainment” that captivates audiences. They took the WFTDA national championship title in 2009, and have placed at least second in subsequent years. They truly provide positive and strong role models for cross-generations of women and girls.
Website url
Facebook url

The first part of the assignment was to outline (using the Prof’s template) all the details about the sports group. I have to say (again) that I appreciate Professor Risenmay’s approach to prep work. It’s familiar and helpful. The next part was to develop an advertising message across different mediums: a 5×7″ print ad for a newspaper or other publication, a Google Adwords ad, and a Facebook Ad.

Since my advertising creation experience is a bit limited, I dug a wee bit on the internet to make sure I had some “rules of thumb” to follow. I found How to Write a Good Ad for the Newspaper with some quick guideposts to consider. Ads should include:

  • Bold, well-worded, attention-grabbing headline
  • Easy-to-read and clear font
  • 2-3 sentences explaining the good or service
  • Clear language — avoid jargon
  • A relevant picture (or two)
  • Contact information

With those ideas in mind, I did a quick, fast design using a Microsoft Word to create the 5″x7″ ad, plugging for the Oly Rollers upcoming fundraiser to support their participation in the national bouts:

draft advertising for 5x7" news print

draft advertising for 5×7″ news print

Google Adwords was another portion, for which I came up with this:





and creating a simple Facebook advertisement:

fb oly rollers








I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry for pancakes right about now . . .

A summer semester exploring creative media strategies

Let Your Voice Be Heard. Photo and poem (c) S.Blood, 2015.

Let Your Voice Be Heard. Photo and poem (c) S.Blood, 2015.

Social and economic justice are critical elements in any healthy, functioning society.

Sadly, these elements are often not as present as they should be, to the detriment of a community. When people have less access to policy-and-decision-makers than others with more money and influence, the community is unbalanced.

As part of my summer semester class COMSTRAT 562 Creative Media Strategies & Techniques, I am exploring ways to bolster the messaging, impact and influence of POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights)  a local non-profit organization. POWER  supports low-income community members in speaking out about the importance of a strong social safety net, and in advocating for political, social and economic change.

Setting the stage to tell the story is a critical first step. 

Consistent, vivid storytelling and strong messaging about POWER’s work and impact should increase membership and participation. As a member-driven organization, participation is key to POWER’s success.

Using an inverted pyramid structure can help tell POWER’s story far more effectively, capturing the critical information and unique qualities, such as:

  • POWER is the only low-income member-led organization in Washington state fighting for economic justice.
  • POWER members are multi-racial and cut across social and economic classes.
  • POWER’s advocacy efforts are informed and developed by its low-income member’s experiences living in poverty.

Making sense of the details to develop the organization’s message profile is a very worthwhile exercise. I have particularly appreciated the templates provided which help organize the information. A clear understanding of POWER’s assets, products and the core audience who can help meet the goals and objectives determined by the membership will strengthen outreach, messaging and ultimately, POWER’s outcomes. The organization defines itself and its activities as “member-driven and member-led” with the majority of the members being low-income persons “struggling with an economic and social system that perpetuates poverty.” These are the people whose voices are so often not listened to by policy makers.

The main message of POWER revolves around the work they do to “support and strengthen the capacity of people to develop their own style of effective leadership, and to collaborate with other people and organizations to make effective social change.” The question is — how can the goals and work of POWER be effectively shared to increase membership, participation, and donations?

Online newsrooms are a key tool in outreach and messaging strategies. Using the instructor-provided template, I worked on developing an online newsroom specifically dedicated to POWER’s Annual MLK Day March. This annual event is POWER’s call to action. Members, allies and the wider community are invited to join POWER in the on-going struggle for economic and social justice by taking part in a community march and rally in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Supporting low-income citizen engagement and leadership, POWER and its membership organizes actions, projects and initiatives that strengthen the social safety net. POWER believes those most affected by an issue are the most qualified to lead the movement to change it. POWER members know their stories are a powerful tool for change and we help low-income community members develop the skills to use those stories effectively.

Lessons learned in COMSTRAT 562 Creative Media Strategies & Techniques can help tell these valuable stories that help low-income individuals and allies advocate for a world with a strong social safety net, where children and caregiving are valued, and the devastation of poverty is eradicated.


Parenting in community . . .


This is still exciting! The possibilities available using the multimedia approach to explore how we do (or do not) honor a parent’s autonomy within the community seem pretty infinite at the moment.  I think the multimedia approach can perhaps give more voice to the parent, the person who should be doing the defining. And who should have the platform and the supports to have her or his voice heard loud and clear when set against the backdrop of our American society that sends conflicting messages of self-sufficiency and autonomy, but also the “do as I say because I know best” message.

I received thoughtful reflective feedback from three classmates. They had a theme in common, encouraging me to slow down the scrolling text panes. To do that I moved the text clips to the track above the main video track and lengthened the text clip out. that of course meant I had to reset the video transition effects, which I did next. Another bit of feedback was to get rid of the “shhhh” clip entirely. I had wondered about the jarring effect of that text clip and removed it entirely and reset the video transitions.

As part of the final video project, I had used the audio recording from the previous Adobe project. In my review of the draft, I realized I needed to credit my friends Laura Adamson and Joyce Duerfeldt  for their participation and fabulous voices in the introduction, so I added their names to the credits at the end of the video.

I also needed to re-credit the open source crowd noise, which was part of the audio clip I submitted for my Adobe Audition assignment. As stated in that assignment, SoundJay explicitly allows the use of “sounds free of charge and royalty free in  . . . projects (such as films, videos, games, presentations, animations, stage plays, radio plays, audio books, apps) be it for commercial or non-commercial purposes,” provided the user follow their few simple rules.  The SoundJay sound in my video blog that came over with the audio clips was the sound of the crowd talking. This was at the tail end of the video clip, leading up to the final “Stop!”

I don’t think I can say enough how grateful I am to the Alfani family for sharing their time and experiences with me as brand new parents. To protect their privacy, I made sure to upload the video as “unlisted” on the YouTube site. I’m glad they live in my community. It will be a joy to watch them grow as parents and to watch Elijah grow to adulthood and beyond!

One piece that didn’t make it into my video story was Laura’s comment that the experience of parenthood was giving her new insight into the important work she does with home visiting and family engagement. there’s nothing like the voice of experience — especially when that person can hold her perspective and another person’s perspective side-by-side comfortably. Laura will be bringing new depth and intuition in how to support parents in the ways they want and need. Stay tuned!

Video Project Storyboard – Final

(Video address:

First Draft Video Project: A New Hope

This is exciting! While I still want some side-by-side learning of how to navigate Adobe Premiere, the possibilities are rather nifty. This video project gave me the scope to pull together my semester theme: exploring how we do (or do not) honor a parent’s autonomy within the community that surrounds and supports the parent. As I’ve alluded to, my concern tends to sit with “who” is doing the defining. While we Americans live in a society that pays homage to self-sufficiency and autonomy, we also feel free to share our opinion of how best to raise a child. Indeed, there has been a rapidly increasing spate of kingdom building as people make a living off of child-rearing theories , tools and opinions.

For this draft, I used my Nikon CoolPix digital camera to record two different interviews, as well taking the still pictures I needed for project footage in local businesses. I reviewed the 5-shot method and tried to keep those ideas in my head as I gathered my footage. For the story, I was torn between using hiking paths to give a sense of “finding one’s way” or sticking to my initial idea. After spending time thinking, reviewing audio project footage, and listening to the interview, I decided to stay the course. The still pictures I took in the local businesses would work well with select bits of my audio project, and help convey that sense of being overwhelmed.

Mind made up, I set to work. I developed my storyboard but gave myself the freedom to stray from it as I saw fit. The first change I made was in adding an additional column. An outline is a useful tool for the overall shape, but the details resolve themselves during the actual production. I tend to try out approaches, and if I don’t like it, I scrap it and try something else. It was useful for the skeleton of the project, but I suspect there is not as much detail in my storyboard as a professional in the field might have in hers. I also suspect that if I continued to use Adobe Premiere, I would grow familiar enough with the terminology to know what terms to plug in where.

It’s a good thing I took Thursday off of work to dive into producing the video. This part of it took 10 hours. I was glad I had hyperlinked in my tutorial blog the helpful instructional videos I found, as I referred back to them several times. I tried several new transition effects, and sliced and diced interview footage with radio project narration and mixed and matched stills to form a coherent story. I’m sure there’s room for improvement, and I look forward to feedback!

Video Project Storyboard