In this step, the group gets a basic overview of each of the short listed topics. This will allow them to decide which topic they’re most interested in “pitching” for in the coming workshops. At the end of this stage participants should have a basic knowledge of all the topics and some idea of how the topic is represented in the media.


  • Explore the general discourse around each of the short listed topics.
  • Self-select into pitch teams.


Depending on time, 1/2 – 1 workshop per topic + some time for self-selection into pitch teams


  1. A range of activities can be undertaken to help the group gain a basic understanding of the topics on the table. In order for the discussions to remain relevant to the group and their project, it is important to make connections between the topics and their lived experience, and to explore existing media representations of the topic.
  2. Some activities that can be useful at this stage:
    • Media Survey– Use a search engine with a news aggregator tool (Google News works well) to enter key search terms related to the topic and see what turns up. Compare different types of news media outlets (ie corporate/mainstream vs independent, local vs national, one language vs another) and attempt to identify each one’s particular perspective.
    • Street Interviews– Ask people on the street targeted questions about the topic. This is particularly useful as a technical and interview technique training activity, and the footage collected can also be used in either the pitch presentations or the final product if relevant.
    • Mapping– Who’s out there talking about what you want to talk about? Which government agencies, non-profits, community organizations, and individuals are working on this issue? What’s their position? This is a good way of building a list of resources that could be used as a starting point for research.
    • “Human Barometer”– A great way to look at the range of opinions within the group. See Human Barometer in the Workshops section of the CuriousWorks toolkit.
  3. After each of the topics has been explored to a basic level, it’s time for participants to decide which they’re most interested in digging deeper into. Mark different areas of the space (eg corners of the room) as corresponding to each of the different topics. Participants should move and stand in the area that they want to prepare a “pitch” for. A pitch is a type of presentation in which a person or group of media producers argue for why their project should be “greenlighted”, given the go-ahead.
  4. No one should pitch alone (unless they really really want to). If there are topics that no-one is interested in pitching for, put it to the group that these should also be taken off the table, narrowing the short list down even further.
  5. Explain that for the next few workshops participants will be working in these teams to develop a pitch that addresses the criteria all agreed on earlier. Respectful competition is encouraged to inspire the best pitches possible, but remind the teams not to get overly tied to their pitch-topics. They can’t all get chosen and everyone will have to re-unite under the most appropriate topic to move into production mode.


This model was developed by Dan O’Reilly-Rowe, benefits from his collaboration with a number of educators at Global Action Project in New York City, and builds on practices common in many youth media organisations. The model was first recorded and refined as a part of the Youth Media Learning Network Fellowship , 2007-2008.

Storytelling Prompts | Finding Topics to Explore

Morgan Sully, 2010.  Coming up with a worthy topic for a story can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here’s a few prompts to get you started. Participants Can work for small or large groups.  Not much technology is needed for this activity. Skills/Technique This...