Industry Report: Documentary
Sunny Side sheds light on ways to inspire viewers
- On Tuesday, representatives of various media organizations discussed their methods for creating interesting and relevant programming for audiences. They highlighted new storytelling methods and the use of technology as some of the key ways to achieve this.
Hélène Coldefy, head of the discovery and knowledge unit at Arte (France), presents an alternative approach to climate change broadcasts, which tend to be “quite stressful for people.” The new strategy is to show “through documentaries…lots of examples of solutions that scientists can propose to solve the problem of global warming.” While the documentary medium remains an effective tool for increasing awareness, this new tactic takes viewers into account by making educational programming more interactive and presenting them with concrete ways to make a difference.
Similarly, Charlie Phillips, head of documentaries at The Guardian (UK), argues that “it’s important to measure the impact of interactive projects, in that you want to know that people are actually engaging with your content.” Given the proliferation of digital media platforms, it has become increasingly important to distinguish whether people are actually absorbing material and being affected by it or whether they are simply following “click-bait.” If the goal is to inform audiences about various issues so that they are inspired to take action, Phillips explains that measuring impact is more effective than looking at numbers alone.
Janet Han Vissering, head of programming, Nat Geo Wild (USA) discusses how wildlife/natural history productions are trying to avoid repetition by telling stories in new ways. This is achieved by “finding great characters” and “embracing all of the technology that’s available” so that audiences don’t end up watching the same thing over and over.
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