Promoting Social Change

Department of Broadcasting Professor Beverly Peterson is using cross-digital platforms to position the documentary as an interactive tool for social change.

newsfeedThroughout her career as an independent producer, Peterson has explored storytelling techniques that allow documentary to bring forward new perspectives on social issues. "The Internet and social media enable me to address an audience's need for information in a creative way that is highly interactive," she says.

Her latest project, "OurBullyPulpit.org," allows visitors to view videos and access supplementary information whenever they have a question. The topic, workplace bullying, is a trend Peterson says has taken a devastating toll on victims' health and the cost of doing business. She has created a series of inter-connected websites that build on the narrative approach in a traditional documentary. Peterson says that using the Internet as a viewing platform allows the audience to watch stories based on their interests and need.

This new media approach was not Peterson's original intention. "The project began as a traditional documentary," she explains. "It has become a powerful cross-platform and non-linear experience where audiences take an interactive approach in creating their viewing experience."

She is working with a design team to incorporate scenes from her newest documentary into an online video experience that borrows game design techniques to enhance the delivery of information. Resources include human resource policy templates, information on counseling and help, news articles highlighting alternative approaches and ideas, research, and videos of victims' stories. Peterson also uses social media to create dialogue and have viewers share their own experiences. "The site has become a vital resource for advocates and legislators alike," she notes. answer questions that are fundamental to understanding how children think about the world and how language influences early thought."