Last week we had the opportunity, for the first time, to sit down with a functioning, experienced newsroom to talk about how StoryMaker might help them.

When we started building StoryMaker three years ago, we envisioned not the tool for workshops and training that it has become. Steve and I imagined a tool to help citizen journalists and activists make better content and tell more compelling stories. Since then, a few projects have emerged that used StoryMaker itself as the main platform for telling stories, most notably Mobile Community Zimbabwe, about which we’ve written quite a lot.

We met with the editorial team of a news organization that focuses quite a lot on Iran to discuss StoryMaker. They were very interested in how the app could facilitate gathering better content from their audience. As part of this, we created a curriculum to support citizen journalists in Iran, ahead of the elections there next year. We sat down with them recently at their office, to assess the progress and determine what is still missing.

We are not yet ready to announce the name of the organization we are working with. Suffice it to say they are on online media outlet that has years of experience covering Iran, but is fairly new to the realm of citizen journalism and multimedia content. It is interesting that they envision a hybrid model for their coverage. Rather than assigning their staff to use StoryMaker, they will primarily use the app as a platform for requesting content from citizen journalists.

Winning the time of any working journalist is always difficult, much more so nearly an entire editorial staff. We were really grateful for their time, and learned a lot. In the coming weeks we’ll be implementing some changes in StoryMaker, based on their feedback.

Professional journalists with access to the knowledge and equipment necessary to produce high quality content do not have as much need for a tool like StoryMaker in their daily work. The promise of StoryMaker to them lies in reaching citizen journalists and locating the next generation of professional journalists and storytellers in Iran.

We are thinking a lot about this feedback, comparing it to what we have heard from trainers and citizen journalists in the past, and planning how to respond. We have drafted an initial set of templates for citizen journalists, aimed at providing more specific story formats for some users, and will be releasing those to the public very soon. Remember you can always reach us via Twitter at @StoryMakerOrg and @SmallWorldNews and via our website. We look forward to hearing from you.