DemLabs blog

Attention spans are shorter. Complex issues have to be simplified and told persuasively to get people to act.

Videos are engaging and informative, but they aren't interactive. Infographics and memes are engaging, but too short to explain many issues. Digital storytelling may be the answer. Interactive stories that incorporate facts, figures, images, videos and maps. StoryMaps is a digital storytelling app from ESRI that creates stories that are easily distributed and present well on both laptops and phones.

Police brutality against students in schools is a complex issue and explaining it isn't easy. We designed a StoryMap on Police Violence in Schools to illustrate how digital storytelling can be applied to explain complex issues. We referenced material from Rebecca Klein's excellent article in the Huffington Post about police brutality in schools along with text, maps, videos and graphics to build an interactive, multi-media experience. Here's how we designed it in two days and the software we used.

Our story line is that police stationed at schools should be better trained and be held accountable for their violence against students.

We used a YouTube video by Reginald Seabrooks, of an incident from Spring Valley Highschool in South Carolina. It's a short video clip of the brutality in American schools.

We next make the case why this issue is important and deserves attention using a compelling open source image from Unsplash and quotes from Rebecca Klein's article.

We included a map of incidents nationwide to show the scope of this brutality. This interactive map was created with ArcGIS using data shared by HuffPo. Clicking on a datapoint on the map reveals more details about that specific incident.

Finally we added a call to action for support groups working on this issue and a credits section acknowledging all the resources we used.

StoryMaps are online and rendered fresh every time someone clicks on the link. They can be continuously updated with new material. The viewer proceeds through the StoryMap at their own pace from either a laptop or mobile device. StoryMaps can cover many topics. Here's one which highlights Jon Tester's accomplishments  in Montana and another StoryMap for When We All Vote that includes a video by Michelle Obama.

Contact us to learn how to tell your story better with StoryMaps.

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.