Social-issue documentary storytelling in the networked digital age serves meaningful functions as a form of civic storytelling in the context of social justice. From changing laws and policies to raising awareness of social problems to re-intepreting social issues through an artistic, creative lens, social-issue documentaries also serve as centerpieces of social change initiatives through a rise in civic engagement organizations and practices. Professor Caty Borum Chattoo’s talk will introduce the intersection of documentary and social justice from her vantage point as a documentary producer, scholar, social change strategist and author of the forthcoming book, The Blackfish Effect & Other Stories: Documentary & Social Change in the Information Age (Oxford University Press).
Caty Borum Chattoo is Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), an innovation lab and research center at American University that creates, showcases and studies media designed for social change; and Assistant Professor at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. She is an award-winning documentary producer, scholar, professor and strategist working at the intersection of social change communication, documentary and entertainment storytelling. Her book about the role of mediated comedy in social change, A Comedian and An Activist Walk Into a Bar: The [Serious] Role of Comedy in Social Justice, with co-author Lauren Feldman, is forthcoming from University of California Press. Her documentary book, The Blackfish Effect & Other Stories: Documentaries & Social Change in the Information Age, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. In 2017, she launched The Laughter Effect, a research and creative initiative that examines the role of comedy in social change. Her social-justice documentaries have aired internationally and nationally on the Sundance Channel, Pivot, NDTV (India), PBS World, Link TV, KCET, DirectTV and theatrically. In the U.S. and around the world, she is a featured speaker and workshop leader on the intersection of storytelling, communication and social justice. A former SVP in social change communication at global communications agency FleishmanHillard, and former producer and philanthropy director with TV producer Norman Lear, her peer-reviewed research on the intersection of storytelling, creativity and social change is featured in leading journals in communication and the humanities, including Journal of Communication; Journalism; Media, Culture & Society; Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media; Mass Communication and Society; HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research and more.