Marketing & Communication / Social Justice

Diving Into the Digital Storytelling of Social Change Magazine

social-change-online-magazineAs Adler University’s Associate Director of Communications, Evan Bryson helped facilitate the creation of Social Change magazine.

In what ways does an online magazine facilitate activism? How do you hope readers navigate and leverage the new platform?

It’s like the Washington Post’s masthead says, “Democracy dies in the dark.” Movements, manifestos, research, reportage — those can wither and die in darkness, too, or at least at the back of an overstuffed-mailbox.

The medium of social justice storytelling is digital. Conversations, investigations, instigation, support — they need wide dissemination, sharing, debating, refining. When I think about the bombshell critiques of issues concerning race, democracy, poverty, and power, I don’t necessarily think of one print journal anymore. I think of a Twitter feed, I think of Tumblr, I think of YouTube. These are platforms that have indelibly shaped our relationship to protest, violence, suffering, and justice.

Insofar as pure writing goes, I think of bracing arguments and necessary encouragement from places like The Atlantic or Jacobin or n+1 or The Baffler, which (yes, they have beautiful print versions), also disseminate their juiciest, most thought-provoking pieces online. The editors know that to get traction around issues, they need that ethernet connection. They also know they need the long form to think cogently and deeply about the large struggles undermining equity and equality in the world.

With Social Change online, the record of our University’s commitment to activism and advocacy doesn’t remain for a list of our alumni subscribers alone. I’m super proud of the work of our alumni, of the ideals of our institution, and I hope that with the magazine online, our successes and critical insights find a far-wider audience than those who already know about our namesake Alfred Adler, or those who have attended Adler University.

What is your favorite aspect of the move to a web publication, or this year’s issue of Social Change?

Strangely, I enjoy the magazine’s fidelity to the other high-quality print magazines we’ve done, in terms of focusing on very human warmth, presence, and light. That continuity, at least for our inaugural online issue, feels very important—to see faces, resilience, courage.

The art direction and photography are not only beautiful but also surprising. In our feature “And Justice Shall Prevail,” (a kind of melancholy piece), there’s this great run of spot illustrations used to describe “8 Things You Can Do Now.” The illustration for “Have Courage” both inspires and amuses me. It’s a kind of curlicue-muscle-person with a lot of attitude. There are also some jaunty illustrations of our outstanding alumni. And Brian Rea — you’ve probably seen his work if you’re a fan of the New York Times’ Modern Love column — he did an illustration for our story on the Center for Equitable Cities.

What I really look forward to though is the potential here. Previously, we’ve had one issue of the magazine drop every summer, with perhaps three major stories. With Social Change online, we’re moving faster, covering events more dynamically, with updates to the magazine happening three times a year — stories we hope to tell in video and animation; in comic book format; in sound.