Jessica Pettengill is a Ph. D. student at Michigan State University in the School of Journalism and a Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow. She is a public scholar and instructor interested in media and narrative, with specialties in non-fiction storytelling, digital media production, journalism practice, metajournalistic discourse, multi-method analysis, and action/participatory research methodology. She was formerly a journalist and editor, digital media producer, and non-profit communications specialist, where she worked for museums and art education organizations. She received her bachelor's degree in Journalism and master's degree in Emerging Media Design and Development, both from Ball State University.


Jessica was inspired to start this project due to the stories she experienced as a journalist that prompted her to leave the profession in 2019, namely, the deadly Camp Fire of 2018.

At the time, Jessica was a desk editor at ABC10 in her hometown of Sacramento, California. She had also previously lived in Paradise, California as a child, where the fire ravaged the town and its residents. This event, among others she covered during her time as a journalist, made her begin to question whether journalism could be doing more to help the people and communities it uses for content.

This project is to honor the lives lost and lives altered. It's a promise to inspire journalists and the institutions they work for to be more critical of their work and to try and do better.


This project was created with financial support from the Michigan State Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative and in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology and the Lab for Education and Advancement in Digital Research (LEADR).


This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


Background photo: Zoe @_imd