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A Developing Story is a new joint venture by Johnny Bennett, Phil Maguire and Benjamin Chesterton of duckrabbit.

In an email a few months ago, Ben said to me his interest lies in “getting under the skin of NGOs” and have them realise that they can deliver their stories and campaigns in far more effective ways. A Developing Story wants the stories told in Government & NGO international development campaigns to outlast the short term objectives of said campaigns.

A Developing Story proposes that the media of these campaigns is deposited in a common silo, accessible by all (usually under a Creative Commons license) so stories – once created – can tell themselves infinitum.

While we believe that there’s clear value in bringing together this public-facing, awareness-raising communication material, we also want to do something similar for communications that are used in international development – e.g. radio scripts, posters, mobile text messaging campaigns, etc, used in health campaigns, etc.

Unfortunately, almost none of this material is available in the public domain. A public health campaign about the risks of HIV is run in South Africa, for example, but the artwork and radio scripts aren’t available to someone doing the same thing in Malawi six months later. And that’s what we want to change.

We believe that all Government funded communications for use in international development should be available in a central, easily accessible database under Creative Commons licenses. A database where photographs, posters, scripts, public information leaflets, etc, can be downloaded, copied, translated and adapted for local audiences, saving practitioners time and money and therefore ultimately saving lives.

In an age where we recycle many of our physical objects, it seems strange that most of the international development communications work funded by Governments, IGOs and even NGOs is completely lost after the short campaigns they promote.

Given the primacy of Creative Commons and open-source content, Matt and Scott at DVAfoto needed clarification on A Developing Story‘s impact on the photographer (which was provided). I have fewer worries as I feel this venture is aimed at transforming media sharing practices among government funded and NGO initiatives rather than another pressure on the distribution and remuneration of individuals’ works.

I would anticipate that the payments made to photographers and journalists by media campaign management will continue and that photographers will take on assignments in the knowledge that their work can be used repeatedly for non-profit purposes.

That said, A Developing Story is very open to individual contributions. This is the most relaxed approach to collaboration I’ve witnessed!

We’re always looking for contributing editors. So whether you’re a blogger, a photographer, an academic or an aid worker we’re keen to hear from original voices.

We’re particularly interested in multimedia work, so if you want to post monthly podcasts from the Congo, or a slideshow from Myanmar, then do get in touch. There’s no obligation attached to being a contributing editor, you only have to contribute once, and you can post as infrequently as you like.

So, as Ben asked, “Can You Help?”

Ever wonder how many stories you’ve missed? Ever wonder if your world-view could be different?

Take a camera into a prison and you’re going to hear some honest tales. When people are going through a process of self-forgiveness or asking for forgiveness from others then honesty pours …

“I Knew a Man Named Simon”

In this film, M.K. talks honestly about his life as a British driug dealer – from the romance of guns to the denial of past customers. He talks with great frankness about his family, feelings and forgiveness.

The Forgiveness Project is an international charity which, among other activities, offers free digital media courses in British prisons. At the end of each course, the prisoners produce a short film on the subject of forgiveness

M.K’s story is well-delivered and uninterrupted by the questions or expectations of society. Other films from The Forgiveness Project are less gripping, but the purpose isn’t solely to entertain – it is to provide a medium through which an individual can unravel their thoughts, (often) guilt and apply forgiveness in a form that rings true.

Prisoners Offering Advise for New Prisoners

Brixton prison was in the news recently with the success of its radio station, so it should be no surprise it would also embrace film as a means to self-rehabilitation. According to the introduction, this is “the first ever film made by prisoners about life in a British prison uncensored and uncut.”

H.M.P. High Down also hosted The Forgiveness Project

Alistair Pirrie has been the lead on The Forgivness Project’s work in prisons.


prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com


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