Navigating distant worlds: International development and social change in interactive web documentary


  • Charlotte Jenner


At present, INGOs, development agencies and media producers who attempt to engage audiences in issues of international development and social change operate in an increasingly saturated media environment, which is content rich but time poor. This leads to a search for innovative, web 2.0-native ways of presenting these often complex and challenging issues such as is interactive web documentary -a format that combines digital, interactive and social media with the documentary form. In this article I consider how interactive web documentary might affect audience engagement with issues of international development and social change via audience surveys and interviews based on two cases of idocs. Three modes of engagement appear to be enhanced by the format: active, emotional and critical engagement. Barriers to engagement -access, audience interest and tensions between discourses of gaming and issues of international development and social change- must be negotiated for the format to succeed in its aims.

Author Biography

Charlotte Jenner

Charlotte Jenner is a freelance writer and graduate of the Communication for Development Masters at Malmö University. With a background in politics, media and development, her main areas of academic and professional interest are documentary film, media coverage of developing countries and public engagement in development (