Winners Announced Of The 2018 Journalism 360 Challenge

The question of "How might we experiment with immersive storytelling to advance the field of journalism?" looks to be answered by 11 projects.

Here on VRFocus you are likely familiar with Life In 360°, our thrice weekly look at how 360 degree video is being used all over the world. Over the last year or so however there’s been a big push in the use of 360 degree video as well as other immersive technologies by major news outlets. For an example there’s two videos from the BBC in this week’s Life In 360°’s alone.

Yesterday were announced the eleven winners of a contest being held by the Google News Initiative, Knight Foundation and Online News Association. The 2018 Journalism 360 Challenge asked people the question “How might we experiment with immersive storytelling to advance the field of journalism?” and it generated over 400 responses.

“The winning projects focused on advancing new models and techniques in immersive storytelling.” Said Paul Cheung, the Knight Foundation’s Director for Journalism and Technology Innovation. “They will work to innovate journalism — providing news organizations and reporters with insights into new forms of storytelling and audience engagement techniques that can shine a light on the issues that matter most to communities.”

The eleven winners receive a grant of between $4,600 and $20,000 (USD) which will be used to finalise their projects on topics such as privacy and surveillance, race issues and domestic violence. A total of $195,000 will be given away as the winners explore new ways to tell serious stories of the world around them.

“The diversity of voices and projects represented by this year’s challenge participants provides an optimistic outlook for journalism.” Said Director of Journalism 360, Laura Hertzfeld. “We heard from creators around the world who are expanding the boundaries of immersive storytelling and experimenting with more varied tools, with some building on inspiration from the 2017 challenge winners. We’re also excited to see journalists pitching innovative ways to help people in their communities use immersive technology to tell their own stories.”

Journalism“We’re proud to support the second class of Journalism 360 grant winners. We’re eager to see these projects brought to life and become points of reference and education for the rest of the journalism industry.” Added Erica Anderson, U.S. Partnerships Lead, Google News Initiative.

A list of winners can be found below:

Alone: No Badge, No Backup, Anchorage Daily News ($4,600)
Project lead: Kyle Hopkins | Anchorage, Alaska

This project will create a 360-video and audio package covering life in an Alaska village without police, where help is a plane ride away.

AR for Field Production Journalists, PBS NewsHour ($20,000)
Project lead: Travis Daub | Shirlington, Virginia

Through this project, PBS NewsHour will train their traditional field production journalists to collect and create 3D assets and other media to support and enhance their reporting through augmented reality (AR).

Changing Same: The Untitled Racial Justice Project, Changing Same Collaborative LLC ($20,000)
Project lead: Michèle Stephenson | New York City

Through this project, participants will travel through time and space to witness the connected historical experiences of racial terror in America in a room-scale, VR experience. 

Home With Our Stories, Lauren McCarthy ($20,000)
Project lead: Lauren McCarthy | Los Angeles

The project explores the potential of using a system of smart home devices as a remote reporting tool, offering an alternative, immersive relationship between journalist and interviewee based on intimacy and care, while questioning the implications of bringing monitoring and automation technologies into the home.

Interdimensional Audio Editor, Datavized Technologies ($20,000)
Project lead: Hugh McGrory | New York City

The Interdimensional Audio Editor is an intuitive tool that allows journalists to quickly and easily assemble and share sound to export as stereo (2D) for traditional use, such as in video storytelling, or as spatialized (3D) for VR, AR and mixed reality (MR).

Immersive Visualizations: A User’s Point of ViewNathan Griffiths ($20,000)
Project lead: Nathan Griffiths | Vancouver, Canada

This project aims to study the effectiveness of immersive visualizations that target the general public and use formats more commonly found in newsrooms by conducting user tests on completed visualisations.

The Next Louisville: Youth Voices, Louisville Public Media ($10,000)
Project lead: Erica Peterson | Louisville, Kentucky

Using VR, audio diaries and immersive storytelling for radio and the web, this project will give a voice to youth in the community — unearthing the myriad of challenges they’ve inherited and their own solutions for the future.

Site-Specific Immersive Audio Stories, Future Projects Media ($20,000)
Project lead: Josephine Holtzman | New York City

The project will develop immersive, site-specific audio stories using binaural recording, a 3D sound technique that provides audiences with the feeling of being in a space and prompts deeper listener engagement.

Spot the Surveillance, Electronic Frontier Foundation ($20,000)
Project lead: Laura Schatzkin | San Francisco

The project provides an immersive VR experience that gives participants unique insight into the privacy-invasive technologies creeping into public spaces around the world.

Visualising Health and Science News with Augmented Reality, NYC Media Lab and The Associated Press ($20,000)
Project leads: Erica Matsumoto and Darrell Allen | New York City

The project will explore the visualization of health and science news in AR by creating and testing prototypes with users; it will convene a team of graduate student designers and AR developers from across NYC Media Lab’s university consortium to develop prototypes on topics such as space and the cosmos, climate change and medicine.

Volum: A Volumetric Video Field Kit, Gisa ($20,000)
Project lead: Trevor Snapp | Nairobi, Kenya

Volum is a modular tool kit designed to make volumetric video accessible and affordable for creators and technologists around the world. This project will develop an open source kit of best practices by building and deploying a prototype in collaboration with immersive storytellers in East Africa.




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