A New North: Introducing Journalism 360

My 360 Camera’s View from the Amazon

When I picked up my first VR camera, I kind of felt like I was alone on a canoe with holes in my paddles. The oars I had used for decades as a feature reporter to steer viewer attention no longer worked. I was no longer in control of the frame. It was moving. North was no longer north. South was now visible for the first time and so was my tripod! If ever immersive storytelling needed a compass….and a community, it was now.

As the CEO of StoryUp, an immersive media startup, I’ve experienced firsthand the difficulties of VR storytelling: the long hours learning how to stitch, the angst of conducting an interview behind a rock, struggling to keep up with the multitude of new headsets. With new platforms and storytelling inputs like haptics and 3D audio, immersive Journalists face unique challenges. But we don’t have to face them alone.

Today, the Google News Lab and the Knight Foundation announced Journalism 360, a community of storytellers, producers, shooters, stitchers, editors, educators, entrepreneurs, ethicists and enthusiasts who are all in the same boat — trying to navigate the uncharted territory of immersive storytelling. We created this effort to ensure that knowledge sharing is open and the community can come together to develop best practices and gain access to resources. These resources will also include grants, funded by the Google News Lab and the Knight Foundation, specifically for immersive Journalism projects.

Joining me as the editorial co-director for Journalism 360 is Pulitzer prize winning Journalist Mitch Gelman. On this Medium collection, Mitch and I will look to surface stories from immersive storytellers on everything from ethical questions they’re encountering to production challenges. A number of immersive storytelling pioneers are graciously offering their time to contribute to in-person events and Hangouts to share their learnings and best practices.

Here’s what else you can expect from us in the coming months:

In-depth Content: On this Medium collection, we’ll host a range of content that surfaces best practices and learnings from immersive storyteller thought leaders and practitioners. You can expect to find case studies, Q&As, and in-depth analyses.

Trainings: We’ll host a series of online and in-person workshops and trainings to encourage more journalists, educators and newsrooms to use immersive storytelling tools.

Funding: In 2017, the Knight Foundation and Google News Lab will launch an immersive storytelling challenge fund that will award grants ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 for great, innovative immersive storytelling projects. More information about when and how to apply for these grants will come soon.

When it comes to immersive reporting, you haven’t missed the boat. In fact, it’s still just figuring its way out of the harbor.

So please fill out this quick intake form and tell us where you want Journalism 360 to take you?