Interview by Melanie Picard
Nicoletta Iacobacci, Head of Strategy and Future Media at the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva, joins our international jury to select the best stories. A new media scout and story producer herself, she has been an immersive storytelling advocate since 2007. She shares her vision of 2023 along with insights about ethics in transmedia:
STORY2023: What is your vision of the year 2023?
NI: I have a pretty radical vision! If we are bold enough to learn coding, the new universal language, we will not only read new technologies but also be able to create them. In 2023, we will express ourselves and communicate with content that will be spread out on different platforms with a non-linear storytelling strategy. Thus, instead of asking ourselves what will be the role of media in the future, we should think about us being media.
STORY2023: How did transmedia enter your life?
NI: It was 2007 when I met the makers of The Truth about Marika, which is still, in my opinion, the most self-explanatory TV production showing the reaching power of transmedia. Even though I was teaching and producing interactive storytelling myself, I consider Marika’s creators as real transmedia mentors. From then on, I became an advocate of immersive and non-linear narratives. In today’s digital age, audiences are fragmented in several small niches. In order to access them, we need dynamic techniques adapted to people’s attention span, which flows effortlessly from computer to tablet, from TV to mobile, etc.
STORY2023: Where do ethics enter into the future of transmedia?
NI: I believe that transmedia is here to stay and will become more and more successful in the future. Authors and content creators face a big challenge in engaging their audiences in rich media experiences. If they manage to lighten up viewers’ environment with a well-crafted multiplatform story, if they reward them and reinforce their values, they will succeed.
Ethics is an important issue to keep in mind though. In order to reach an audience, storytellers have to be more and more pervasive. Who sets the limits of ubiquity? If you enrich your story with almost-real elements, you should not forget ethical considerations. Is it ethical to blur fiction into everyday life? How do you make sure that people will recognize that your story is fictional? How far can you go satisfying the audience’s social and psychological needs?
STORY2023: Your advice to STORY2023 participants?
NI: Think about a powerful story before you think about technologies you could use. The story has to be strong and original enough to flourish through different media. Non-linear narratives can be fulfilling and powerful ways to tell stories, but it should be done cautiously (and smartly) as transmedia has the power to create formidable communities. If the message is consistent and sustainable, these communities can become proactive and contribute. Entertainment, engagement, and sustainability, if well balanced, can be explosive and enhance change.
Suggested reading: 7 myths of Transmedia storytelling by Henry Jenkins
More about Nicoletta
Born in Rome, Italy, she received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts then moved to the US, where she stayed until 2002. In 1987, she got an MCA at the New York Institute of Technology, majoring in computer graphics and studying the convergence between Radio/TV and online properties. She also managed several R&D digital labs in both the US and Italy while also teaching interactive storytelling and production. Today, she is the Head of Strategy and Future Media at the European Broadcasting Union (80 public service broadcasters around the world). A PhD researcher at the European Graduate Studies, she coordinates and supports the most interesting and innovative TV professionals of European Public Service Media in order to create a call-to-action for shaping the future of a socially responsible public service media.