Our Team Meets with CNN Atlanta

Two weeks ago, Edward Thomas, the Product Manager of Mobile & Emerging Technology at CNN invited the JJIE Virtual Worlds Team to present the project at CNN.

At 11 a.m. today, seven members of the JJIE Virtual Worlds team, along with Publisher & Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ), Professor Leonard Witt, CSJ Executive Editor John Fleming, Metaverse Strategist, Designer and Trainer Gwenette Writer-Sinclair, and JJIE web producer Christopher Hayden presented the result of a semester of hard work and dedication.

The primary goal of this presentation was to introduce our work to CNN producers, perhaps with the prospect of doing further collaborative experimentational work in the intersection of virtual reality and journalism.

Here is how we envision a partnership could work:

  • The Center for Sustainable Journalism would bring together college students, providing them with educational and experiential opportunities, as they work with virtual reality immersive journalism projects in collaboration with CNN.
  • In ongoing collaboration with the VW team, CNN product managers would provide the VW team with concepts based on CNN’s specific needs in the exploration of virtual reality storytelling techniques.
  • The VW team would design virtual world interactive scenarios and immersive journalism experiences, and then come back to the CNN team for critiques and collaborative improvements to reach project goals.
JJIE Interns Present to CNN atlanta
Seven JJIE Virtual Worlds student interns (left to right; Jackson Walsh, Kevin Enners, Camille Moore, Claire Bohrer, Cristina Guerra, Ariel Greenaway, Anastaciah Ondieki) at the CNN Center.

At the beginning of the JJIE Virtual Worlds project, Professor Leonard Witt said,

“If we do excellent work, we will get recognition.”

Based on the interest of CNN, one of the world’s largest news organizations, in considering a long-term relationship with the virtual worlds team, I believe it’s safe to say that the team did excellent work, which clearly paid off with recognition and possible future collaborations.

Next Steps

  • The Christopher Thomas story is still a work in progress. The long text story needs to be edited once more before presenting it to CSJ editor John Fleming for possible JJIE publication. Furthermore, the machinima story, which was the initial, sole end product of this project (wow, how that has changed), must be re-edited into a final draft before its public debut.
  • The machinima “Forgive” is also a work in progress. Students Jackson Walsh and Cristina Guerra will continue to collaborate with Gwenette to complete their creative translation of a teenage girl’s poem to an emotionally evocative machinima.
  • Student researcher Claire Bohrer will continue to conduct research around this project to determine the effect of virtual worlds journalism versus textual journalism on an audience.

As we wrap up our main Christopher Thomas Story and our Forgive machinima, we are eager to see how many more doors can be opened and partnerships created with this ever-expanding project.


Your Ideas Count, Write Them Down!

JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying Fresh Air in a Hot Air Balloon on the Beach
JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying Fresh Air & the View in a Hot Air Balloon on the Beach

In everyone’s mind lies a wealth of knowledge that is unique. Everyone is gifted with their own ways of communicating, hence making life more interesting. Imagine going to the bookstore to get a book and every section you go to, each writer has the same  writing style and content. It is fair enough to say reading would be a chore rather than a joy! In the same token, if all artists copied a famed artist and molded all the products  in the same way their “famed icon” did, art galleries, music stores, and theaters would run out of business.

Variety plays a big role in creating  interest. The only way to achieve variety in writing is by allowing different ideas to the table, then consolidating them to form a cohesive story. In the same manner, to achieve a tasty meal, a good cook takes his knowledge of his recipe and assembles his ingredients, then cooks them taking into consideration what needs to cook first.

Tying this information to my favorite quote from the exercise Gwenette gave  us, “Putting it on paper let’s you start fixing it,” all ideas count and an idea left in the mind cannot help anyone. On this note, as we gear towards the writing and actualization phase of this special task, everyone’s input is important. Our goal is to put  our ideas together and bring out Chris’s story in an objective manner, and hopefully shed new light on this pressing issue.

 

 


A New World

As I begin the third week of this amazing journey, I marvel at the amount of knowledge I have already gained through this project. As the old adage goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, I have literally walked into a world previously unknown to me.  With the mind of a novice, I have learned to walk, run and hopefully by the end of it all, I will be flying into greater heights of knowledge about this New World. Navigating through the virtual world has at times challenged my technological skills, but it has also revealed to me the joys of opening myself up to new ideas and succeeding in accomplishing new tasks.

As a Journalist, I appreciate the role the virtual world plays in highlighting issues of importance in society, and presenting them in a totally innovative way, in this case through the use of machinima. I have learned a lot from my peers who bring to this project such zeal and knowledge, and look forward to the process ahead.