AJAs 2018 Finalists


Date Aired or Published Sept 9, 2018
Media outlet where first aired or published: Published on Google PlayStore, Apple AppStore
Name of Program: CONSENT-Walk the Walk
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: St. John's
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio): up to 60 mins depending on user-interactivity

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

CONSENT - Walk the Walk (smartphone app) is an interactive documentary based on the 2017 court case of a police constable charged with sexual assault in St. John's, Newfoundland. He was found not guilty by a jury in the province's supreme court. The verdict was highly controversial and prompted waves of street protests. The judgement is currently under appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Asked to respond to the public protests, the defence counsel said "they should get the trial transcript and read it." So we did. The trial judge discouraged public access to the court record, but ultimately we were able to create a transcript from audio on the court computer. Then we created an interactive audio app to allow listeners to literally "walk in the shoes" of the complainant and the accused. The trial itself had attracted daily media news coverage, but little analysis beyond that. We wanted to advance understanding of sexual assault issues by helping listeners to experience the events of the case in a visceral way. The audio documentary is published as a free interactive smartphone app. It places verbatim trial testimonies in a narrative framework to allow St. John's listeners to walk the route where many of the events of the assault took place. As they walk, their smartphones' GPS function automatically triggers chapters of the documentary pertinent to each location they pass. Being physically present in the place where something happened lends a depth of meaning to trending news stories. The route winds through the night-time "party strip" in the city's downtown area, and a target listenership for the documentary is the downtown party-goer who may be ill-informed about consent. Flyers in various bars along the strip advertise the app. Walkers end the route at the courthouse, hearing the prosecution and defence lawyers present their summations to the jury. The documentary is impartial, encouraging listeners to consider the issues as if they were themselves a jury. At the final location, a commentator offers that “Ultimately our justice system is a reflection of society’s morals, and if we’re no longer happy with this definition of consent, then maybe a discussion about a change in the law needs to happen.” Listeners (and AJA jurors) outside the city can experience the full documentary remotely and take a "virtual walk", by tapping any of the different locations on the street map displayed on their smartphone screens. Each location plays audio, while the screen shows photographs and text. Interactive links connect users to sexual assault information, rape crisis hotlines, news items about the trial, and Canadian case law on sexual assault. The documentary content is taken verbatim from the court transcript, and voiced by actors. Since the identity of the complainant is protected under a court-ordered publication ban, her name and those of several witnesses have been changed. Otherwise, all the words you hear were actually spoken in the trial. AJA jury members can download the app and experience it interactively on your smartphones. Android users can download for free from Google's PlayStore; iphone users from Apple's AppStore. Search for "Consent - walk the walk" in either store, or find direct links at http://batteryradio.weebly.com/landscape-journalism.html (we have provided you a link to this page). Please listen with headphones. For anyone on the listening jury not equipped with a smartphone, we have uploaded an mp3 file comprising the 15 locations edited together sequentially to form a continuous audio file for this submission. Listening this way, you will hear all the audio but won't be able to access any of the interactive features. In December, the app was polled top local audio podcast of the year by the city's street newspaper The Overcast.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Battery Radio is a small independent production company based in St. John's. The project was done on a shoestring. Journalists Deming & Brookes contributed their own time. The City of St. John's contributed partial actors' fees. Battery Radio covered remaining performance fees, studio recording, audio mixing, design, publication bundling, appstore registration costs and some publicity. Local street paper The Overcast contributed print advertising.

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