CURRENT RESEARCH: Chancellor's Chair Award (KPU)
I received a $60,000 Chancellor's Chair Award at Kwantlen Polytechnic University to conduct a long-term research project. The goal is to assist residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in producing a digital memorial. The project will help community members pay tribute to family members, friends, and co-workers who have experienced fatal overdoses.
My documentary, Duterte's Hell, won a World Press Award, was nominated for a Grierson Trust Award, and was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick. The film highlights the impacts of thousands of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug users and dealers in the Philippines. It was produced by Field of Vision, published online by The Intercept, premiered at MoMA in New York, and has screened at numerous film festivals across North America and Europe.
humanizing the opioid crisis
My doctoral project is a digital memorial for Michael Stone, a B.C.-based meditation instructor who died of an opioid overdose in 2017. The purpose of the participatory project is to challenge dominant and stigmatizing narratives about the opioid crisis and its victims. The research methods that I adopted include autoethnography, participatory methods developed by documentary producers with the NFB, counter-memorialization, collaborative testimony, and interactive storytelling.
For decades, documentary photographers and photojournalists have produced stigmatizing images of injection drug users. From 2014 to 2015, I attempted to produce humanizing counter-narratives of three long-term and vulnerable heroin users taking part in North America’s first heroin-assisted treatment program in Vancouver, B.C. known as SALOME.
After a year chronicling the participants' lives, I realized my photos were unable to communicate the full story of drug users’ lives and that addictions often stem from past traumas. In order to help amplify the participants' voices and experiences, I conducted photo-elicitation interviews and asked them to express their thoughts about the photos.
I invite you to view the The Outcasts Project and hear Cheryl, Marie and Johnny's voices. I also a three-part series published on Medium (links below), and wrote about the study in The Conversation and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. My scholarly chapter about the project was published in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction. The study was profiled by BBC3, CBC News, and Postmedia.
I am an experienced and passionate multimedia journalist and documentary maker. I specialize in video journalism, photography, audio production, and interactive storytelling. I am also a communication studies scholar and educator.
I have a PhD in Communication Studies from Concordia University in Montreal, QC (2019). I also hold a Master of Journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. (2001).
I have been a full-time faculty member in the Journalism and Communication Studies department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C. since 2012. I have developed and taught journalism courses focused on contemporary and innovative forms of reporting, including multimedia storytelling, photojournalism, audio production and podcasting, and video journalism. I also teach communication studies courses focused on critical approaches to visual journalism and documentary, media genres, and television and social change.
Previously, I worked as an assistant professor in the Journalism and Digital Media program at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, ON. I was an instructor in Media Studies (MA program) in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, QC, and the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. I trained journalists taking part in the International Reporting Program at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of British Columbia.
I was responsible for training communications personnel working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) across the Asia Pacific region. Following the earthquake in northern Pakistan in 2005 that killed over 70,000 people and left more than a million others homeless, I worked as a humanitarian advisor and program manager with Internews in the disaster zone for eight months. My role was to train a team of radio journalists reporting on the crisis and international relief and reconstruction effort. I also trained journalists from Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia for eight months with the Independent Journalism Foundation, the Cambodia Communications Institute (UNESCO training centre), and the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
In my research, I use participatory methods, including photography, interactive storytelling, digital storytelling, and collaborative testimony in order to support marginalized groups, help amplify their voices and experiences, and resist dominant and stigmatizing narratives.
I have conducted several research projects with people whose lives have been affected by the opioid crisis. I believe the work is timely and important, because nearly 14,000 people in Canada have died from drug-related overdoses since 2016, and more than 17,000 have been hospitalized, according to Health Canada.
In my research study titled The Outcasts Project, I used documentary photography, photo-elicitation and interactive technology to create counter-narratives with long-term and vulnerable heroin users taking part in North America's first prescription heroin program in Vancouver, B.C. I wrote about the study in The Conversation and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. My scholarly chapter about the study was published in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction. The project was profiled by BBC3, CBC News, and Postmedia.
In my evolving research, I am examining the role of empathy in journalism. The purpose is to explore how reporting can help bridge societal divides and reduce the stigmatization of vulnerable communities.
My research involves multimedia research-creation using:
* Photojournalism & documentary photography
* Audio production
* Interactive storytelling
Other research methods and scholarly interests:
* Collaborative testimony production
* Visual methods (photo-elicitation, digital storytelling, and more)
* Participatory methods with marginalized and stigmatized populations
* Oral history
* International humanitarian reporting
* Transmedia journalism
* Independent and alternative journalism
* Citizen journalism
* Public journalism
JOURNALISM & DOCUMENTARY
My documentary, Duterte's Hell, won a World Press Award, was nominated for a Grierson Trust Award, and was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick. The film highlights the impacts of thousands of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug users and dealers in the Philippines. It was produced by Field of Vision, published online by The Intercept, premiered at MoMA in New York, and has screened at film festivals across North America and Europe.
My news, features, documentaries and live reports have been broadcast by PBS Frontline/WORLD, CBC, Agence France Press Television, Reuters, Al Jazeera English, and CNN. My writing has been published by Reuters, AlertNet, the Toronto Star, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, and Inter Press News Service. From 2008 to 2015, I worked as a video journalist with Associated Press Television News’ international features program, Horizons, producing, filming, editing, and writing dozens of stories in Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, and Canada.
I have reported on families searching for thousands of boys and men who were forcibly disappeared by government forces in Sri Lanka, as well as under-reported conflicts in southern Thailand and along the Thai-Myanmar border. I have produced stories about attacks on journalists and the humanitarian crisis at the height of Nepal's civil war, the legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, India, and violence waged by pro-Jakarta militias in the wake of East Timor's UN-sanctioned independence referendum and the country's transition to independence.
I have produced several documentaries for CBC Radio programs, including The Current and Outfront. My documentary, Nina and Arne, broadcast by Outfront, won a Gabriel Award from the Catholic Academy and a Dave Rogers Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association.
I am the founder of StoryTurns and facilitate innovative and empowering digital storytelling workshops by collaborating with community organizations. I have led workshops for youth at risk of engaging in gang-related activity, participants of North America's first heroin-assisted treatment program, and female journalists responding to widespread sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
IN THE NEWS
Frias, Jordan. Emerson photo exhibit showcases stories of recovery. Spare Change News, May 16, 2019.
Loughman, Molly. Journalism Students’ Multimedia Project Changes Narrative of Opioid Epidemic. Emerson Today, May 1, 2019.
Stevens, Carl. A closer look at the Recovery Project at Emerson College. WBZ NewsRadio 1030, April 30, 2019.
Stevens, Carl. Emerson Students Create Project to Tell Recovering Addicts’ Stories. WBZ NewsRadio 1030, April 29, 2019.
Hick, Gabrielle. “As opioid epidemic worsens, photographers are finding new ways to capture addiction.” Artsy, Feb. 4, 2018.
Live interview with CBC Radio, On the Coast, Vancouver, B.C., Sept. 12, 2017. Topic: Duterte’s Hell, my documentary about state-sanctioned killings of thousands of drug users and dealers in the Philippines, produced by Field of Vision.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “Documentary Duterte’s Hell featured in “Journalism instructor documents Philippines’ war on drugs.” Sept. 12, 2017.
All Sides Staff. “Telling the Stories of the Opioid Crisis.” WOSU Radio, All Sides with Ann Fisher, Aug. 22, 2017.
A Whole World. “Documentary shows the consequences of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug policy.” Television Switzerland, Aug. 15, 2017.
Darpan News Desk. “KPU Multimedia Exhibit Humanizes Heroin Addiction.” Nov. 1, 2016.
BBC3. “Documenting the long road to recovery from addiction.” March 7, 2018.
Blake, Emily. “Interview with Aaron Goodman, professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in communication studies and journalism about his photo documentary on three long-term heroin users participating in North America's first heroin-assisted treatment program.” Emily-black-1990-squarespace.com, April 5, 2016.
National Post. “We need you to see we’re not just stereotyped monsters’: Vancouver heroin addicts in their own words.” March 15, 2016.