Murray State alumna Holly Wise is passionate about multimedia storytelling with an emphasis on international humanitarian issues. She teaches at Texas State University near Austin and she founded VoiceBox Media in 2012. Its purpose is to create journalistically sound multimedia story packages for small to mid-sized nongovernmental organizations in order to bridge the gap between them and potential donors. Kate Lochte and Holly Wise chat on Sounds Good about her accomplishments.
Upon graduating from Murray State in 2006, Holly Wise applied for a job at Murray Ledger & Times while earning her graduate degree in Mass Communication from Murray State. After receiving her Masters, she sought employment closer to her parents in New Mexico, landing a newsroom management role at a small newspaper in Silver City. The industry took a blow in 2008-09 and she ended up freelancing until getting hired as an editor at a weekly newspaper in central Texas, before being promoted as City Editor for the flagship paper in Killeen, Texas. She's now a journalism lecturer at Texas State University.
While studying journalism at Murray State, she was driven to become a humanitarian journalist and do international reporting, to give voice to people working and volunteering abroad. "No matter what community I was working in, there was some amount of change that I could hopefully incite in a community just from the power of storytelling and the power of words," she says. In 2009, she decided to start a media service that told the stories of humanitarian entrepreneurs, eventually launching VoiceBox Media in 2012.
Freelancers familiar with their coverage area contact VoiceBox Media with stories of people in their location working towards solving social issues. They cover the story and provide VoiceBox Media with the content: story, photos, videos, etc. Content is also made available to the humanitarian organizations so that they can use it in their own marketing/communications efforts. Freelance journalists receive a stipend to cover their expenses.
Wise says her organization has raised funds through personal and private donation and is in the process of obtaining a 501c3 tax-exempt status, which will allow for her organization to receive grants and for donations to become tax-deductible.
"That's one of the things we're constantly looking at is innovative ways to tell people's stories outside of the traditional written word... If a story is best told by a series of photos then why not tell the story in that way? Or if it's better told through social media only then we'll tell the story in that way. So we're very flexible in trying to meet our audience where they are and where they want to hear or read our stories."
What's next: exploring ways to generate revenue so as to not rely solely on grants. Also, staying on the front lines of cover social issues, and being thorough in talking about the people, policies and models that go into those issues. Becoming a platform for people to talk about the good that they do on a daily basis. Wise says she is also interested in expanding the internship program to other universities.