Reframe is now Modifier — and so much more
Published October 2022
A letter from Director of Practice Change, Aubrey Nagle
When I joined Resolve Philly in April 2019, the team consisted of co-executive directors Cassie Haynes and Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and then-intern Julie Christie, huddled excitedly over our laptops at a coworking space. I excitedly signed on to this burgeoning team to lead what was then called the “Identity Narrative Framework” — a chewy name for a chewy question: how can we convince journalists to use more humanizing language in their reporting? We knew from Resolve’s work with the Reentry Project and Broke in Philly that being described in dignified terms instead of stereotypes and labels is deeply important to news audiences, especially to those part of stigmatized and marginalized communities. What we didn’t know was the best way to get this impact across to reporters. The “Identity Narrative Framework” quickly became Reframe and I began experimenting with the best ways to spark lasting practice change in the newsroom.
Fast forward to 2022: Resolve is now 20 staffers-strong—plus a rotating squad of amazing interns and fellows—and we have our own lovely office where we still huddle excitedly over our laptops. I’ve spent the past few years trying many methods to reach our goals, from one-off workshops to months-long newsroom-wide projects to digital software development. I began with a focus on language and framing, but expanded to source tracking and media research. Some projects worked, some didn’t, and some got totally scrambled by a pandemic. In the end, I’ve focused our efforts on those with the highest impact: deep, long-term relationships with newsrooms aimed at specific changes, alongside digital content that can reach many journalists with guidance when they need it most.
During these past few years, my colleagues at Resolve have also been sharpening their skills and broadening their impact. Our Community Engagement (CE) team has built incredible relationships with Philadelphians across the city, deepening trust between them and the local media ecosystem and bringing important stories to the surface. The collaborative work exemplified by Broke in Philly has brought together a once untrusting and competitive market to create great, bigger, better journalism. The Equally Informed Philly team has established ways to get life-saving information for Philadelphians without equitable access to news. The newly established Shake the Table initiative has begun a process of holding local government to account. And none of this could be done without our fearless co-founders building an organization from the ground up that cares for its own as humans first, while exemplifying the benefits of shared leadership.
In short, while I’ve focused on how to carry out effective journalistic practice change in the realms of language, framing and sourcing, my amazing coworkers have amassed their own significant expertise in improving journalism for the betterment of community. And as this expertise has grown, others began to take notice. Everyone from our CE team to our co-Executive Directors are frequently asked to share that knowledge and insight with others in our industry—after all, collaboration and sharing resources is the bedrock of our organization.
In 2019 we began to formalize some of these relationships into ongoing consulting contracts with newsrooms around the country, adding more value than we could by simply getting on the phone to be a thought-partner for an hour here and there. This year, something crystalized: since all of Resolve’s team have knowledge and skills to share, and since we’ve developed ways to effectively transfer that knowledge to others in our industry, it makes sense for us to bring those practice change skills together, under a new brand, in a way that allows us to maximize our impact.
Today we’re proud to introduce Modifier, the new home of Resolve Philly’s practice change work. Moving forward, Modifier is where newsroom decision-makers and leaders of analogous organizations can come for personalized instruction and consulting and where individual journalists and writers can find advice, guidance, and resources. The expertise across the Resolve Philly team means there are opportunities to work with us in areas like shared leadership, collaboration, community engagement, language and framing, and more. We offer solutions for organizations of all sizes and for individuals seeking new skills, from in-person group training to free educational content.
Why Modifier? We worked with Philly-based branding firm Myth to find a new name that would help us tell this story. The word “modifier” describes our role in practice change: helping media makers, researchers, writers and more adapt their current workflows and adopt new habits. It’s also a nod to our origins as Reframe and our focus on language, as in the adjective attached to a noun to modify its meaning. Our beautiful logo is a bit of a Rorschach test — depending on which way you look at it, it reflects an abstract “M,” two folks shaking hands, an Alexander Calder mobile and more. Regardless, it symbolizes the creativity and energy it takes to make change.
Of course, this change is slightly bittersweet for me personally as we’ll be retiring the Reframe name, though our language and framing work will be absorbed into Modifier. I’ll miss this first symbol of our work and all of the puns it enabled, but am ecstatic to lead this new enterprise as Resolve’s Director of Practice Change.
We’re so grateful to the partners, funders, friends and cheerleaders who have enabled us to build Resolve into what it is today and who continue to support our work. This is just the beginning of a new chapter, and there’s much more to come from Modifier that we can’t wait to share with you.
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