In the Digital Salon we regularly feature inspiring projects by young digital journalists also from outside Akademie Schloss Solitude, who explore new dynamics of digital content production and storytelling, to share with the Solitude network.
The project Mapping Frictions: Stories from Western Sydney by journalist and writer Kavita Bedford from Sydney/Australia is a website dedicated to celebrating untold stories from the vibrant, multicultural community of the suburbs in Western Sydney. As a participatory journalistic project, where citizens play an active role in producing news, with a multidisciplinary team of writers, poets, and web developers, the project aims to provide a platform for the local voices to slow down the news cycle with its often negative stories.
CH: Could you describe in detail how this platform is designed and how it works?
Kavita Bedford: The platform is a multimedia website and is a mixture of photography, graphics, journalism and documentary film. Each story is »mapped« and pinpointed onto the location where the story takes place. For example, one story is about a local Lebanese manoush pizza making sheikh, and this story is pinned to his shop on a map of the region so people can visit and visualise.
CH: What are new ways of digital storytelling you use to tell »other« stories or to get a different or better understanding of life in Western Sydney?
KB: The rationale behind providing a platform for digital storytelling is twofold. One is that Sydney is a rather segregated city and many locals do not travel across to regions or to Sydney’s western suburbs and know very little about their own city. This is a way to make the outer suburbs »accessible« to locals.
The other reason is whilst many of the issues facing this region are local in nature, they are global issues. Like many major cities, we are all facing growth of migration, refugees, fear of Islamic extremism, and the challenges of defining how to live in a harmonious multicultural city. One way to is to begin a dialogue and open a space for people and communities who often feel alienated or shut out of mainstream media narratives to tell their stories and give agency to these groups. Digital storytelling is one step in this direction to provide more knowledge and tools about media who often have mistrust of media.
By creating a digital platform, we are looking in the future to further open these conversations with the »Western Sydneys« of other cities and cross cultural and geographical borders.
CH: Working together in a multidisciplinary team, what is the division of work in digital journalism compared to classic journalism?
KB: Digital journalism still needs to maintain the ethics and rigour of »classic journalism« and we strive to maintain this approach. Journalism as a discipline has always attempted to provide numerous perspectives and share interesting lives – it is just that often the machinations of media can corrupt the intent. In many ways, it really just a shift in platform that has changed. But the digital space can also provide the platform to share stories that are »grassroots« or offer an alternative perspective from a voice that traditionally may have not been considered »newsworthy.« We are interested in working with community towards developing stories that have a social impact, which is a departure from the classic model of journalism.
Creative Producer Kavita Bedford is an award-winning Australian writer with a background working in online journalism, anthropology and publishing. She is the recipient of the Walkley Foundation for Journalism Women in Media mentorship and the Westwords Under 30 Western Sydney Writers’ Fellowship developing a series of literary non-fiction essays on place and identity.
The project Mapping Frictions is in partnership with BYDS Bankstown Youth Development Service.