As a multimedia journalist, my focus has always been on culture, particularly exploring art through an international context. Of course, a good story is a good story, and the UO School of Journalism and Communication has taught me to explore a wide range of topics through different media, from writing to photography to videography.
I’m getting plenty of practice in all of that this summer in New York City, where I’m dividing my time between writing about the arts at Paper magazine and creating augmented reality stories at Empathetic Media.
Writing for Paper magazine’s website
After spending last summer interning at a daily newspaper in Accra through the Media in Ghana program, I knew I wanted to spend my next school break in a large city. I was drawn to an internship at Paper magazine in particular because it has a reputation as one of the city’s oldest independent publications covering popular culture. As I’m somewhat of a Luddite, I also appreciate that Paper continues to produce a beautiful print publication while adapting to new platforms. I’m an online editorial intern, though, so the articles I write about local and global arts and culture topics articles are published on Paper’s website.
One of my favorite parts of this job is getting to highlight incredible creators. I interviewed Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, a beauty expert and UO alumna who recently published her first book, Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives. I also chatted with the band Lion Babe, a New York-based band that just released a new mixtape. Working for a publication like Paper makes it easier to access these artists. I’m proud every time I contact a band or creator asking for an interview and they express their appreciation for Paper.
Working for Paper has helped me learn more about how publications can continue to produce compelling content while managing the demands of page views and advertisers. Every day, I’m impressed by the quality of the content Paper publishes while also continuing to flourish as a company.
Creating AR stories at Empathetic Media
I am also interning at Empathetic Media, a startup focused on using augmented reality, virtual reality and 360-degree video to tell compelling stories. This internship opportunity came about when I visited Empathetic during the inaugural #SuperJinNYC trip this past spring.
The company has been focusing on creating immersive AR pieces covering police shootings using the available court documents, testimonies and videos. It recently produced two AR stories: a collaboration with the Washington Post on the death of Freddie Gray, and “Eric Garner: I Can’t Breathe,” which explores the events that led up to Garner’s death during his arrest two years ago on Staten Island.
As a storytelling intern, I work directly with Dan Archer, the company’s founder, to develop stories for ARc Stories, the world’s first AR sequential storytelling app. Archer, whose background is in graphic journalism, started Empathetic Media to explore the ways technology could be used to encourage empathy and social action. Even though I am trained as a writer and photographer, I enjoy getting to apply the story development skills I have learned in the SOJC to exciting new media projects.
I am also enjoying working for a startup. I have mostly interned at established media publications, so it is exciting to work at a smaller company that is on the forefront of the future of storytelling. Every day at Empathetic is a different adventure, from taking photos for the company’s website, to writing blog posts on developments in AR and VR, to brainstorming AR story ideas.
While I was initially intimidated about writing my first AR piece, I was surprised at how similar it was to other forms of storytelling. I start with a compelling story that also has a timely news element. It is also important that it be visually interesting, but not so complicated that it would be hard to animate.
For its stories, Empathetic Media uses 3D models as well as text, audio and maps to create an immersive AR experience. The audio is the main part of the piece, but the text provides additional details, and the maps show the user where the events took place. I try to draw the audience in with the first AR scene — sort of like a lede to the story. In addition, when covering large issues like police shootings, it is often more effective to tell the story of one person affected by it.
Even though my two internships are very different, I am grateful I get to explore a wide range of journalism opportunities in the hub of American media. And I’m excited to take all that I am learning this summer back to the SOJC in the fall for my senior year, when I will be finishing my degree and working on my Honors College thesis research on la SAPE, a social movement of well-dressed men in the two Congos.
Story by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank ’16
Photos courtesy of Hannah Steinkopf-Frank