It’s that time again: Each fall, Dot Connector Studio heads to the Online News Association conference to meet up with friends and colleagues and discover the latest journalism innovations. I’ll be there, scouring the Midway, hearing the latest insights from Knight’s Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy and checking out projects at the Journalism 360 Immersive Storytelling Festival.

Let me know if you want to connect in Austin. If you won’t be there, I hope you’ll drop me a line anyway and tell me what you’ve been working on.

—Jessica Clark, Director, Dot Connector Studio

How an we clean up toxic misinformation?

Check out this taxonomy we published on the MisinfoCon Medium site. To create it, Dot Connector’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Nancy Watzman and Associate Director Katie Donnelly sifted through 830 proposals submitted to a 2017 prototype open call supported by the Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, and the Rita Allen Foundation. Thanks to Joyce Rice for working with us on this nifty graphic.

Knight Commission hones in on solutions

Watzman has also been working with the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, developing recommendations for a report to be released in January 2019. The Commission is focusing on four themes to improve trust in the media and help strengthen our democracy.

  1. Reinvention: Local news organizations can build trust by covering and listening to the communities they serve, but they desperately need resources. How do we inspire audacious investment in community news in the 21st century and beyond?

  2. Responsibility: How do we all take responsibility for the information we publish, consume, share and distribute? This question is for news organizations, social media platforms, leaders, citizens–every layer of society.

  3. Transparency: What kind of transparency should we ask of organizations involved in production or delivery of news?

  4. Accountability: Eight in 10 Americans agree major internet companies should be regulated like the media when it comes to what they publish. What should that regulation look like?

> Get involved: Read more on Medium and post your comments there. (To learn how to post on Medium, click here.) Or, tweet your thoughts using the tag #knightcomm.

A closer look: Funding for diversity in journalism

Democracy Fund published a report that Donnelly wrote: Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Journalism: Trends in National GrantmakingIt examines data from the Foundation Maps for Media Funding, which was produced by MIF in partnership with the Foundation Center. The report was cited by the American Press Institute in its “Need to Know” column.

> Get involved: Got comments or questions? Post them on the Democracy Fund’s new Engaged Journalism Lab site.

Making a New Reality wraps up

Over the past several months, Dot Connector’s Jessica Clark and Carrie McLaren edited and produced an ambitious research project. Authored by Kamal Sinclair, Making a New Reality examines ways to increase equity in emerging media. The Ford Foundation funded the project, with supplemental support from the Sundance Institute. Below are the installments published since our last newsletter.

TL;DR? Here’s the wrap-up, and a look at promising responses to Sinclair’s research.

#5 Shared Space: Sinclair explores solutions for bridging chasms between arts, technology, and business sectors, observing that cross-pollination might “help us develop shared language and innovative visions…to design a livable and equitable future.”

#6 Boundary Issues: Media makers and consumers are left increasingly vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors. Sinclair reflects on the dynamics at play when minorities are in majority spaces, how to consider the tensions surrounding cybersecurity and infringement of privacy, and the role of cyberbullying in the emerging media environment.

#7 Design for Justice, Well-being, and Prosperity: Sinclair presents a number of design principles suggested by interviewees. To democratize design, she encourages media makers to “be collaborative with communities wrestling with any particular social or environmental ill to unlock the intelligence and creative potential that is often undervalued.”

In connection with the Making a New Reality project, the Ford Foundation also posted an article by Cara Mertes, director of Ford’s JustFilms program, about social justice philanthropy for emerging media.

> Get involved: Send your responses to the project and related story ideas to Sinclair at, or spread the word: #makinganewreality.

See what’s new at Immerse

Want to learn more about emerging nonfiction storytelling? Dive into this publication, which Jessica edits, produced in partnership with MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and the Fledgling Fund, with IFP as the fiscal sponsor. Here are highlights from the past few months:

Issue #15: Clark examines the rise of haptic storytelling in a piece titled “Do You Feel What I Feel?” and Carles Sora ponders the uncertain nature of digital truth.

Issue #16: Dan Archer delves into his research at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School on VR and empathy and his sketches from the i-Docs conference. Also, American University’s Pat Aufderheide discusses the evolution of social impact VR.

Issue #17: The Story Teller from the Future (aka Karen Palmer, pictured above), explains how her emotionally responsive film RIOT uses facial recognition, behavioral psychology, and a bit of parkour philosophy to prepare us for our forthcoming surveillance state. Plus, Glenn Morey shares how his experience as a South Korean orphan drove him to create the multi-platform documentary Side by Side.

Issue #18: Way before Minecraft or Twitch, native storytellers were perfecting the craft of decentralized narrative, writes Amelia Winger-Bearskin in this issue’s lead piece. Immerse producer Ingrid Kopp also introduces a new section in this issue: Beacon, which shines a light on inventive makers and groups around the world.

Issue #19: “Documentary is no longer static, but fluid,” observes Dale Hudson in this issue’s conversation, with with Helen De Michael and Patricia R. Zimmerman about their book, Open Space New Media Documentary. Meanwhile Shirin Anlen ponders what happens when machines try to make order from chaos.

> Get involved: Subscribe to the Immerse newsletter today, or send your story ideas to

We’ve also been busy:

  • Working with Media Impact Funders to research trends in global grantmaking, plan events such as this summer’s Media Impact Forum, and redevelop their website. The new website will include an updated database of impact tools—look for it later this fall!
  • Consulting with the Ford Foundation on strategies for increasing equity in news.
  • Continuing to work with the Democracy Fund on strengthening the field of engaged journalism and contributing to Local News Lab.
  • Presenting at the Future of Filmmaking virtual conference.
  • Working on a new suit of cards for our Impact Pack focused on business models. Get ahold of us if you’re interested!
  • Keeping an eye on the role that misinformation will play in the 2018 mid-terms.
  • Live-tweeting various conferences and events—follow us @DotCoStudio

In our off hours…

Jessica has been checking out local immersive experience Figmago (photo at left), touring radical print shops in Oaxaca, and chuckling at The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Katie is taking a break from social media to watch Kim’s Convenience on Netflix, catch up on old WTFpodcast episodes, and write postcards to voters.

Nancy is getting three kids going for school year in three different schools; scrambling to keep up with late-summer CSA bounty; running and biking and thinking about the ski season starting soon.

Carrie is obsessed with Steve James’ new docuseries, America To Me, and the jaw-droppingly good In the Dark podcast

Michelle is dabbling in plant-based cooking, redecorating her apartment, and exploring Philly parks with her energetic pup.