Posted January 4th 2012 at 11:05 pm by
in Featured Contributor

A Conversation with Stefanie Ritoper

Ritoper Photo_small

Why do you make media?

I first started making media after taking an Ethnic Studies film class by documentarian Loni Ding. With the simple instructions to just go ahead and make a film, we stumbled through handling a camera, using microphones and fighting through the technical glitches of editing software. Students who entered this class had never even touched a camera, but by the end of the semester we all completed our first films. They weren’t very good, full of shaky footage, mismatched visuals and choppy audio. Still, they were our stories, and this made us feel powerful.

That experience taught me that you didn’t have to be a Hollywood director with fancy equipment to tell a good story. Rather, some of the most powerful stories come from those who hardly make it on major broadcast channels or the big screen—such as workers, immigrants, people of color, and students. I make media today because I love learning the craft of telling a good story. Good stories make us feel more connected and I hope to help bring stories from the margins to a broader audience.

Whose media inspires you?

Right now I’m most inspired by:

I Am Los Angeles: short, beautifully shot video portraits from all over Los Angeles

DreamTeam Los Angeles: DREAMers are courageous immigrant students who by telling their own stories across new and traditional media are transforming national political debate

Mobile Voices: an online news source where daylaborers and other immigrant workers submit stories from their cell phones

This American Life: A weekly radio show that tells stories from people’s everyday lives. I like Ira Glass’ breakdown of his approach to radio.

StoryCorps: A nonprofit that provides opportunities, such as traveling mobile vans, for people to interview each other and archive these conversations. These animated shorts feature excerpts from these interviews.

What would you like to see for the future of CoLab Radio?

I would love to see CoLab Radio embrace its core philosophy of showcasing community stories. I hope contributors take even more risks to tell bold and thoughtful stories.

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