Co-Design Project Proposal: Respect in Reporting with Press Pass TV

Project Description:
        As part of the Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio at MIT, a group of students have partnered with Press Pass TV in order to support the Respect in Reporting (RIP) Campaign. The Civic Media Codesign Studio at MIT takes a collaborative design approach, where many forms of knowledge and experience are equally consulted in order to create projects that suit the needs of any given community. The community partner that we will be working with is Press Pass TV, a non-profit organization that “engages youth in advocacy journalism to tell the stories of communities working for change” ( The project of focus will be the Respect in Reporting Campaign, which aims to address common misreporting in mainstream media, particularly related to youth and disenfranchised communities. An example misreporting includes the recurring and overwhelming portrayal of disenfranchised groups and/or communities as “criminal,” instead of focusing on their positive dimensions. The Respect in Reporting Campaign will largely emphasize raising awareness surrounding common misreporting in mainstream media, but direct action in re-shaping public discourse through the strategic use of tools and technologies will also be central. The RIP Campaign draws its inspiration from the Drop the I-word Campaign, which was led by undocumented youth as a means to alter public discourse and incentivize people to stop using the word “illegal” to refer to undocumented immigrants. In similar fashion, the Respect in Reporting Campaign aims to alter how disenfranchised and underrepresented communities are reported upon, and consequently, how they are perceived and discussed in public discourse. Guiding these efforts is a multi-tiered approach, which includes a website, online tools, storytelling workshops, media production, and community and media outreach. A more in depth breakdown of our project proposal can be found in the following sections.
People Involved: 
Press Pass TV: Cara Lisa Berg Powers (Director), staff, and youth and adult community members.
Co-Design Studio Group: Sumona Chakravarty, Sujata Singhal, Song Shi, Rogelio Lopez and Dan Schultz.
Campaign Goals: 
  •  To raise the clout of Press Pass TV as an expert on issues surrounding misreporting of issues, particularly related to racially and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.
  •   To raise awareness around biased reporting and the misuse of words, such as ‘illegal’, to describe those who do not have citizenship to those communities.  Such practices have a dehumanizing effect on individuals and perpetuate structural injustices. While this project was on the table before our team from MIT came on board, it is still in a nascent and developmental stage.
Deliverable 1: The first deliverable that Cara hopes to get off the ground is a website.  This website will have several purposes:
1.         To provide a place in which the stories of those who have suffered from the misuse of the word can tell their stories.
2.         To show visuals of quotes from a wide variety of supporters (elaborated further down).
3.         To provide a toolkit of strategies for community activists who may want to start a similar campaign.
4.         To ask for people, particularly journalists, to take the pledge to show Respect in Reporting.
In order to get this content, we need to do the following activities:
  • Before website launch we need to get supporters on board.  As described by Cara, there are three levels of supporters: organizational partners (i.e. institutions such as Harvard or MIT and non-profits such as ARC and Free Press), media partners and community activists.
  •  Once support from groups mentioned in the previous activity become coming in, then we will start capturing stories of mothers who have lost children to violence and other youth in the community who have been the victim of violence and mis-reporting to make small videos that can be put on the website
  • Get earned media from other outlets such as Colorlines and MotherJones (PressPassTV has a board member in common with MotherJones and may be able to get an early sign on from them).  Cara also has a friend of a friend who is a producer at MSNBC.
Deliverable 2: The second deliverable would be around building awareness of Respect in Reporting at the grassroots level with community members, particularly those affected by disrespectful reporting but also other community members who may not be aware of these issues.
Potential activities/strategies to promote this deliverable include:
  • Build videos through storytelling workshops.
  • Workshops on letter writing and/or letter-writing parties.
The activities of the aforementioned deliverables will also benefit each other in the following ways:
  • Doing workshops will draw people to the website.
  • Blog about the outreach and community activities – this is a good way to build legitimacy and accountability.
  • Using the website to crowdsource direct action (kind of like – we will probably need some time-lines and how we are using the website to target people and groups.