Framed by WDET (2019 Winner)


Between 2014 and 2018, WDET paired Detroit-based photographers and audio producers to craft authentic stories about their own communities and neighbors. “Framed by WDET” explores the moments and spaces that Detroiters share with one another through documentary photography and audio vignettes. This collection of work features 10 communities and documents the voices of nearly 100 local residents from around metro Detroit.

WDET recently completed a strategic plan that will lead the station towards greater impact, growth, and financial independence. Several common themes emerged throughout our research, including a desire for good and empowering local news stories, greater connection to community, and more information about local cultural events and activities. This project is an example of WDET’s efforts to meet audience needs by empowering local residents to contribute to and inform our programming.

Since 2014, “Framed by WDET” stories have been presented on the radio, online, and in pop-up exhibitions in more than 20 art spaces in the Detroit region and beyond. In 2019, we expanded the reach of these community stories through the production of a multi-location exhibition at local businesses throughout the Detroit region; a long-standing exhibition in downtown Detroit that presented this body of work for the first time in one space as an immersive experience; a series of events, live broadcasts, and conversations about the importance of media and art that is produced by, for, and with local communities; and a photo book produced in collaboration local magazine publication “Grand Circus Magazine.”

These efforts were funded through a combination of grant support, sponsorship, and a successful Kickstarter.

One key to the success of the project was engaging communities by hiring members of local communities as photographers and storytellers. While the series included on-air features and interviews with artists, there are more opportunities to expand the use of this content across our broadcast and digital platforms, in addition to the in-person experiences. 

The Kickstarter suggests that in some cases, audiences are willing to support a project they find valuable, whether they are familiar with your organization or not. Engaged journalism is well-positioned to provide a rich and highly engaging opportunity for sponsors to interact with diverse audiences; however, this can sometimes be difficult to quantify. Ticket sales are a common way to garner audience revenue at events; however, they may not always be the best fit for engaged journalism events that are intended to be free and open to the public.

Read Current’s story about Framed.