Before StoryMaker even had a name we envisioned a tool to help citizen journalists, activists and amateurs to make content with strong storytelling quality and the highest journalistic standards. Three years later, that goal is just as important as ever.

Social media continues to be a vector for sharing rumors, untruth, and inaccuracy. The vector seems to be getting worse, whether it’s a political candidate claiming Muslims celebrated the September 11th attacks (they didn’t) or news outlets on Twitter sharing reports that imply a passport found near the body of one of the Paris attackers proved he was a Syrian refugee (it didn’t).

The easy availability of fact-based and accurate information is one of the most effective tool for combatting rumors and propaganda. Communities need nuanced, intelligent journalism that endeavors to get the story behind the story. In countries where the media is still emerging, or tightly controlled, journalism education is critical. We want to ensure StoryMaker can help individuals become journalists and contribute to creating an informed public.

Education and Critical thinking is essential to an informed public. We are in the process of producing a large collection of new guides for use in StoryMaker. In addition to the Mobile Photo Basics pack, we’re producing a series of packs that will help you craft the story you want, make news reports, and even host your own mobile video workshop.

Inside the StoryMaker app and online via our wiki you’ll soon be able to access the revamped StoryMaker lessons as the “Introduction Series,” in several languages. In addition we are exploring guides on a variety of themes:

  • News Reporting - These new guides will focus on providing users with straightforward instruction about collecting and presenting all the relevant information on the topic they are reporting. Thus far in StoryMaker we have provided users guides primarily via a “New” button, but this requires users to answer questions each time they want to start a story. Instead we will provide guides user can access by choosing a specific medium or a specific format for story they want to make.

  • Specific Stories or Events - We realize that users may also be most interested in looking at guides based on how to report on a specific topic, such as a protest, election, or breaking news event. The revamped lesson catalogue will let users do that.  The guides will be selections taken from the more general reporting guides, edited slightly to focus on the specific topic.

  • Journalistic Standards in Reporting - Finally we’re examining some new lessons to improve user’s ability to meet journalistic standards. These will focus on technical skills such as recording narration, as well as qualitative skills such as how to make ethical choices when reporting breaking news.