Harnessing the power of storytelling to change the world™

Social-Issue Documentary 3.0: Tackling Global Poverty with Link TV’s ViewChange

Posted on August 18th, 2011 by Andre Sternberg

[Ed Note: This article first appeared as a guest blog post on]

By Caty Borum Chattoo

ViewChange.orgCan social-issue documentaries play a role in helping to end global poverty?

Link TV thinks so.

Almost one year ago, the nonprofit global affairs media organization and broadcast network launched a project based on the idea that documentary storytelling, combined with social actions and the latest news, could make a meaningful contribution to the challenge of global poverty. The idea became, an online portal built on the foundation of semantic Web technology that connects documentary stories to news and social actions in global poverty. In other words, in one place, people can watch character-driven stories, read the latest news about issues covered in the films, and then connect directly to action campaigns around each social issue. It’s a site and tool that’s primed for grassroots awareness and action.

The platform is now a curated documentary hub with more than 400 short- and long-form character-driven documentaries from around the world – and all of them illustrate real progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which together comprise the world’s “blueprint” for ending global poverty. The portal site now includes the best stories from top global development organizations and filmmakers around the world.

I work on the project in a kind of hybrid role that combines documentary producing, communication campaign strategy and partnership cultivation with top global development organizations, including Devex, InterAction, Save the Children, UNICEF, PSI, Global Health Council, ONE, Comminit, Bread for the World and more. And thanks to the expertise of these groups, combined with the amazing repository of films now licensed to, we’ve started producing half-hour TV specials in partnership with several top global development organizations – the ViewChange TV series. For each show, the narrative is informed by the expertise and objectives of the partner organization, and the main story and outreach campaign are developed simultaneously against the backdrop of the group’s organizational (and sometimes advocacy) objectives, creating a powerful campaign-style approach.

But one key to the project is simple and so powerful for those in the social-justice community to organize around specific issues – the fully-sharable/embeddable formatting of the acquired films and the final jointly-produced shows. By giving the videos, films and global development shows to groups and blogs to embed and share for their own purposes, we’re offering a tool that’s useful not only in our own campaign outreach, but for others to use in theirs. Interested in raising attention about the connection between climate change and drought in developing nations? Want to support innovative hunger relief programs in poor areas of the world? Need a documentary story that can be used in your own awareness/activist campaign to organize for purposes of advocacy or other goals? Navigating through the tool provides all of these opportunities.

ViewChange: Challenging HungerJust last week, one of these jointly-produced documentary specials premiered on Link TV (Friday, August 12 and 16) and on Working closely with Bread for the World, an anti-hunger advocacy organization, the “ViewChange: Challenging Hunger” documentary special combines filmmaking from Bread for the World itself, along with short films from Oxfam and the Sundance Institute. In this particular show, the organization’s advocacy goals – to use foreign aid more effectively to help poor and hungry people – provide the narrative thru-line.

The call to action is urgent: With more than a billion people suffering from chronic hunger, the timing of potential budget cuts would be particularly devastating to developing nations. And the special debunks a key foreign assistance myth and provides new insight into the ripple effects of chronic hunger: Most Americans believe that about 25 percent of the U.S. budget goes toward foreign assistance, but, in fact, less than 1 percent supports crucial foreign assistance programs—including anti-hunger programs and food aid. The funding is vital to the continued development and management of innovative programs that provide long-term solutions to hunger.

The outreach includes a grassroots campaign to reach out to Bread for the World’s network of thousands of individual members, churches and denominations around the country, as well as reaching out through its college-age hunger activists group. Teams at both Link TV and Bread for the World are working jointly in an integrated strategic communication campaign model that includes traditional media outreach, blogging, sharing the show via embeddable links, outreach to top global development influencers, and social media.

To support Bread for the World’s work directly, check out its fact sheets and advocacy opportunities on its site: Tell Congress to create a circle of protection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people in the US and abroad.

Follow ViewChange on Twitter @ViewChange and at

You can watch and share the full show here: ViewChange: Challenging Hunger. vs. YouTube

Posted on April 4th, 2011 by Keith Laidlaw

Jarek Wilkiewicz from the YouTube API Team discusses in his blog post about building video apps: Man vs. Machine: Curating with YouTube APIs. He says that as well as empowering users to organize video content themselves, another approach is “a hybrid of curator’s selections and related content recommended by an algorithm.”

To achieve this, by Link TV, a non-profit committed to improving the world with storytelling, utilizes semantic analysis … Top-level categories are decided upon (or “bootstrapped”) by curators, however, while navigating the site users are presented with automated recommendations as well.

Read the full post here

Live ViewChange Film Contest Finalists Announcement

Posted on September 18th, 2010 by Hannah Eaves

On Monday September 20 we’ll be announcing the finalists of our ViewChange Online Film Contest. At final count the contest garnered 137 accepted entries, and films were submitted from 49 different countries! Two of the finalists from each category were determined by online voting.

The announcement will be made at a TEDxLondon event by contest judge Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s part of a whole day of TEDx events, starting off with TEDxChange in New York, an event dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals, featuring Melinda French Gates, TED curator (not to mention author and Wired editor-in-chief) Chris Anderson and TED star Hans Rosling.

The New York event will be followed by TEDxLondon, which will focus on ViewChange.

Both events will be streamed live at, starting at 3PM GMT/11AM EDT/8AM PDT. The announcement itself is expected to take place at around 6:50PM GMT.