Narrative vs. Advocacy Panel – Collaborations for Cause 2014

How can non-fiction content producers balance their drive for authenticity when tasked with communicating an organization's mission? Where's the line between reporting on an issue and creating propaganda for an advocacy effort? This panel explores the sometimes complicated landscape that arises when nonprofits become the media makers.


Melissa Ryan is Director of Photography for Nature Conservancy magazine, the award winning magazine of The Nature Conservancy. Melissa oversees and implements the photographic vision for the print, online and mobile editions. Melissa works in close partnership with freelance photographers to create and publish dynamic environmental conservation stories that reveal the connections between global natural resource use, scientific research, and the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Melissa has over 20 years of photo editing experience working on magazines, books, newspapers, and online projects. Prior to working at the Conservancy, she worked for National Geographic Books and edited 16 books on a wide range of subjects including natural history, travel, science, and culture. She began her career with a photojournalism degree from the University of Texas-Austin.

Beth Wald is a photographer and multimedia journalist who creates compelling visual narratives exploring how we as humans interact with the natural world around us. She is particularly interested in telling stories about how indigenous and traditional cultures are struggling to survive in the face of environmental and social changes, a passion that has taken her around the globe and often far off the grid. She has made numerous journeys into remote regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan to photograph unique and endangered mountain tribes and ecosystems and most recently has documented threats posed to indigenous people and virgin forests in Ecuador and Peru. Beth has photographed stories for a wide variety of publications, including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Outside magazines and she partners with organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, Alaska Conservation Foundation, Conservacion Patagonica, E-Tech International and others. Beth received the prestigious Rowell Award in recognition of her photographic art and commitment to the people and places that inspire her and is a member of National Geographic Images, The Photo Society and Aurora Photos.

Jamie Penney is a Content Manager at Getty Images Assignments and Reportage, where he has collaborated on projects for the world's leading editorial publications, as well as numerous corporate and NGO clients. He works closely with photographers as they develop features and assignments, and more recently has focused on new publication platforms and social media. For the past 8 years he has coordinated the Getty Images Grant program, which offers financial and editorial support to photojournalists. Jamie began his career as a freelance photographer in New York; he now lives in Seattle with his wife and son.


Jason Houston has worked in visual communication for over 20 years, much of the time as an independent photographer / filmmaker doing magazine stories, books, and NGO assignments as well as related long-term personal projects on social and environmental issues. Recent subjects include fisheries management across the US and throughout the developing tropics, deforestation in Borneo, watershed conservation in the Peruvian Amazon, agricultural heritage on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, and his daughter's climbing wall in their garage. In 2008 he co-founded the media production company Take One Creative to produce documentary films and provide story-driven communications content for clients led by their missions and passions. Jason has also worked as a magazine and book photo editor and is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). He has exhibited widely and presented often on his work at venues including Mountainfilm, San Francisco Art Institute, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Williams College, University of Colorado Boulder, The New Mexico Museum of Art, Fovea, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and the Nevada Museum of Art.

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