Two months ago, we announced our Lookout360°, a 6-month Climate Change Immersive Story Accelerator as our pilot project of the Lookout Station, a new initiative by the European Forest Institute that offers a space to connect journalism and science communities for climate change digital storytelling (read more).
Our pilot with the Global Editors Network has taken off the ground with a huge amount of interests from the journalism communities. Within a month since the launch of the call for application, we received 280 applications from 88 countries. Among them were multimedia reporters, environmental and science journalists, news anchors, freelancers, documentary filmmakers, news editors, investigative journalists, science communicators etc. Many of them have won international awards, been on a fellowship, served as a jury member or trainer for journalism programmes. We’ve also received overwhelming number of newsroom applications, with editors and directors applying on behalf.
We cannot emphasise enough that most applications were at the highest standard. We also received a high volume of first rate applications from not just Europe, but also from Americas, Africa, Middle East and Asia.
The team wished to have selected many more for this very first edition. Our experience so far however proved that this type of programme is very much in need by the journalism communities.
For the selection process, our team focused on the level of commitment and support both by the applicant and their media house. We also put a weight on how much research the applicant has done on the topic, which led us to prioritise those who have a clear topic and/or mission they want to achieve during the accelerator and beyond. More importantly, how passionate the applicant and their organisations are towards reporting about climate change through immersive storytelling by using Insta360 device. We have extended our initial plan to make this programme a truly international one to maximise the outcome and experience for the selected participants. We have also decided to add two additional spots to the ones who belong to organisations that train journalists from all across the globe and/or offer the published 360 video free-of-charge to hundreds of newsrooms worldwide.
We are proud to announce our 12 participants who will join our 6-month journey.
Olga Dobrovidova is a senior science correspondent at TASS, a leading Russian newswire service. She is also Russia’s first Knight Science Journalism Fellow (class of 2014–15). She has spent eight years covering science and environment, with a focus on climate change and sustainable development, in Russian and English. Her freelance work has also appeared in GEO, N+1, Climate Home and Nature. Olga teaches science journalism for graduate students at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg as well as a number of science communication bootcamps. In 2017, she launched Peremennaya, a first of its kind climate change media project supported by the British Embassy in Moscow.
Lookout360° will be her organisation’s first experiment with immersive science journalism and climate change reporting. Her editorial team plans to build a multimedia feature story around Olga’s videography and continue to use 360-degree video in other projects.
Pablo Leòn Sanchez writes for El País since 2009. Since then his work has appeared in its travel magazine called El Viajero EL PAÍS, in the newspaper’s local edition for Madrid and has worked in the ‘reportage’ team. Currently, he holds his position in the Production Unit, that focuses on digital innovation in journalism and news narratives.
His editor refers to Pablo as ‘one of our best journalist’ at El País and as they are expanding their immersive storytelling capacities following a few earlier examples incl. the one from Fukushima, his takeaways from Lookout360° will be integrated into El País’ overall plans around 360 video storytelling.
Lucy Sherriff is formerly a Multimedia Editor for HuffPost UK and currently a freelance multimedia journalist based in Bogotá, Colombia. She reports on women, social justice and the environment through video, radio and writing. In her previous role as Multimedia Editor at HuffPost UK where she worked for six years, she launched the site’s environment section, as well as helping develop the company’s video strategy. She produced, presented and co-filmed HuffPost’s first documentary ‘End of the Earth’, which was filmed in Antarctica, and has had more than 1M views on Facebook.
She has very strong and compelling story ideas focusing on the indigenous communities in Colombia and island countries in other parts of the world, and will apply the techniques and takeaways from Lookout360 ° to produce human stories through 360 videos.
Rizky Gerilya works as a videographer for de Volkskrant’s crossmedia editorial staff. With a strong focus on innovative storytelling, he has worked for a variety of media outlets such as interactive (web)documentaries, videogames and apps. At the crossmedia department of de Volkskrant, Lookout360° will fit in an agile strategy to experiment with new technologies for storytelling.
De Volkskrant will use the lessons from the initiative to find a way to combine the most innovative and immersive formats with an efficient workflow, and further develop a constructive storytelling tool for the future. His 360 video will be published as a special feature, as part of their extensive coverage of climate change. Previous examples of this are here and here.
Ugochi Oluigbo is a News Anchor and environmental journalist for TVC News’ environmental program, Green Angle, its environmental program. Her work has won several journalism fellowships and awards including the CCMP Fellowship, UNFCCC African CDM Radio Contest, UNEP Young Environmental Journalist Africa to name a few, and has hosted the BBC World Service Climate Change radio programme, Local Warming. Ugochi comes from a community ravaged by erosion, Amucha, and believes this inspired her passion for environmental journalism. She covers under-reported development stories to amplify voices of the most vulnerable across the world. She works to mentor new environmental journalists and is a strong eco-influencer.
Immersive storytelling is important for her media organisation to better cover important reports. The outcomes from Lookout360° will be featured on Green Angle.
Paavan Mathema is currently a correspondent with the Kathmandu, Nepal Bureau of the Agence France-Presse (AFP). She covers a wide rage of issues including politics, economics, environment and culture for the agency, reporting on breaking news as well as producing text and video features.
She has nearly a decade-long journalism experience, and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Hong Kong.
Paavan feels that immersive storytelling is emerging as a powerful journalistic tool that can amplify viewer engagement and is excited to learn the techniques and opportunities to tell the story in a new way.
Her editor states: having a team member trained in immersive storytelling will certainly be an asset to the Kathmandu bureau of AFP. In addition to publishing video on climate change aided by Lookout360°, the bureau will use the techniques to explore other stories from Nepal.
Virve Rissanen works as a tech reporter in Helsingin Sanomat, the largest daily newspaper in Finland. Her stories are published in HS.fi, and they often include a video, poll or other interactive element. Her work also involves both production and post-production of mobile videos, and has been appointed by the media’s managing editor to join Lookout360°.
Because of her specialisation and background, she finds it almost natural to explore new ways of storytelling. She has tested 360-experiences on her own last year, and see the potential in telling stories through this new format for wider audience of Helsingin Sanomat. Her experience and lessons-learned will not only be shared with her colleagues, but will be used in the media’s strategies around video to enrich journalism the way it should be done in 2018.
Borut Tavčar is a specialised journalist in environmental and energy issues in daily national newspaper Delo, most influential newspaper in Slovenia. He is also the editor of green page of Delo, which was founded by Borut himself and has become the source of information in various groups working in environment sectors and government in the country. He is currently running his own experiment to live without a car to report about his own experience through the paper. He also trains and coaches young reporters to write environmental stories for the newspaper and its online edition.
His journalistic career started in 1991, and ever since his passion and focus have been around environmental topics. One of the first reporting he has done focused on central waste water cleaning plant in Ljubljana, to showcase the importance of field reporting and narrating the difficult topics in a easy-to-understand way for the readers. Delo will be publishing his work through Lookout360° and hoping to get a top-page story around climate change and environmental topics that concern the Slovenian citizens.
Qing Wang is a Netherlands-based journalist with a background in politics, sustainability and international development. She currently works as the Europe Correspondent at Jiemian News, a leading Chinese language news organisation.
Prior to her work as a Europe correspondent, she spent 3 years in Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the former Dutch international broadcaster, where she led a project that provided media supports to Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Jiemian News plans to produce a series of 360 video contents around climate change and sustainability in China by using immersive storytelling, and the outcome from Lookout360° will be published as part of the series.
Flavia Martins y Miguel is a Brazilian journalist at Portal R7 Minas, an online national media published by RecordTV. She joined the media group in 2012 and is responsible for the branch of the Minas Gerais and the coverage of topics related to its community. Her professional experience also includes TV production and documentary editing. Flavia has won a national journalism award for an educational piece in 2012 and a local prize in 2009 for a series focusing health assistance by the government.
Portal R7 Minas is developing a new project for their news website and their main focus is to develop strategies to publish 360 videos and VR pieces. Lookout360° will help the team to get the necessary training and mastery to get started with their new initiative, and the outcome from the accelerator will be incorporated into its 2018 plans and beyond.
Sonia Narang is a California-based multimedia journalist who reports for Public Radio International (PRI) on topics ranging from climate change to issues affecting women around the world. Her journalism work focuses on how a changing environment impacts vulnerable communities, and she recently reported a series about climate change in the South Pacific.
She draws upon her documentary film background to create character-driven video portraits that reveal significant human rights and cultural issues. Sonia has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.
Sonia will apply the insights and skills she gains from Lookout360° to her video stories about the human impacts of global warming, climate resilience leaders, and adaptation solutions. Through immersive digital storytelling, PRI will have an innovative tool to use when connecting with audiences worldwide and raising greater awareness about environmental issues.
Claudio Accheri is an award-winning journalist, filmmaker and photographer focused on digital storytelling. Originally from Cagliari, Italy, he worked on different news beats in several locations around the world in the last decade. In 2016 he joined the Thomson Reuters Foundation, developing multimedia features and packages as well as long and short-form documentaries for Place, the foundation’s website focused on land rights. His work has been featured internationally on global publications such as Washington Post, AJ+, NBC, RTSI, Internazionale as well as regional publishers in Africa, Latin America and Southern Europe.
His application is backed by his editorial team at TRF who has committed to publish his 360 video stories on climate change and make them available to all Reuters clients and others for free.
This edition has taught us a number of lessons. Firstly, the idea and planning only came about in mid-October 2017, and in order to have enough time for the selected participants to develop stories before the GEN Summit 2018, the call for application and the selection process needed to take place at the end of the year, in the holiday period. It was quite challenging for many journalists and in particular freelancers to manage to get editors’ confirmation. Secondly, while this edition focused on media organisations, we also saw many qualified applications from NGOs and influencers. With these lessons in mind, we will be developing new programmes focusing on these two communities in the year of 2018.