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Sunday, November 19, 2017
HomeHealthCeteraTelling Stories Strategically Using Digital Media to Influence Policy

Telling Stories Strategically Using Digital Media to Influence Policy

Jessie Daniels

I’m very excited about one of the projects that I worked on over the summer, and wanted to share the results of this with readers here.

The goal of this project was to create policy changes that would improve life for seniors in East Harlem, one of the designated “aging improvement districts” in New York City.   The project was a collaboration between members of the community in East Harlem, the Health Policy division at New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) and several of us at Hunter College, including Martin Dornbaum (of the HPEC / media center at Brookdale) and Joseph Pelaez and Jonathan Mena of ICIT.   We used some equipment obtained through a previous grant award (GRTI). The result of the collaboration was this video (15:53) which illustrates the research findings of NYAM’s community-assessment survey through the stories of several seniors living in East Harlem.

The video was screened last week (August 31) at a large event hosted by NYAM.  Those attending the event included service providers, policy makers, and members of the East Harlem community, including those featured in the video. As the video was being screened, at least one policy maker placed a phone call and implemented a change on the spot – and then announced it later in the meeting.  Community members cheered when they recognized friends and neighbors on screen.

While in many ways, this kind of ‘accountability’ meeting is an established practice in community-organizing and policy circles, I think the strategic use of digital video here – both to engage community members and influence policy makers – is a new and innovative development.

I also hope that this collaboration can serve as a model for how we might work together with our new neighbors in East Harlem.

Jessie Daniels, Senior Fellow, The Center for Health, Media and Policy, Associate Professor, Hunter College

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