Project’s Centerpiece: Christopher Thomas Story Published & Discussed on Georgia Public Radio

Crime Report Christopher Thomas cover story 2106.11.02


Today almost a year after we started this special JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project, we published the centerpiece of our student labors, the story and the machinima mini-documentary video: Christopher: A Child Abandoned, Deprived & Imprisoned. It was published on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org) and simultaneously by The Crime Report housed at the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Both publications have a national reach to both general audience and those most interested in youth justice issues.

The finished story and machinima speak to the truly amazing work of the 11 students at Kennesaw State University, who did all the digging through thousands of pages of documents and traveling the state of Georgia for key interviews. All with the hope that Christopher Thomas’ story could be told widely to prevent him from being hidden from public view in Georgia prisons, which too often act as our country’s Gulags for young men of color.

You can hear a synopsis of the story at Georgia Public Radio’s (GPB) Second Thoughts program, where host Celeste Headlee interviews Kennesaw State University professor Leonard Witt, who oversaw the project, and project student Anastaciah Ondieki.

Project supervising professor Leonard Witt (left and far right), Georgia GPB Second Thoughts radio show host Celeste Headley (second from left) project student Anastaciah Ondieki (center) at GPB studio.
Project supervising professor Leonard Witt (left and far right), Georgia GPB Second Thoughts radio show host Celeste Headlee (second from left) and project student Anastaciah Ondieki (center) at GPB studio.

Christopher committed a crime at age 14, there is no doubt about that, but professor Witt says, “Really the story the students uncovered shows in great detail the failure of all of us in our society to find a way support our most neglected children. If we treated these kids differently, with compassion rather constant punishments, their outcomes might be much different.”

Christopher Thomas still has one more chance for the Georgia courts to amend his 40-year sentence thanks to the work of Stephen Reba, director of the Barton Law Center’s Appeal for Youth Clinic at Emory University. Reba has been trying to find justice for Thomas for years. Of course, we will keep everyone posted on that outcome.

Until then, thanks so much for watching this project unfold and special thanks again to Gwenette Writer Sinclair, who oversaw the virtual world sections of the project and to the Kennesaw State University students, including: Claire Bohrer, Kassidy Callahan, Kevin Enners, Ariel Greenaway, Cristina Guerra, Jourdan McGhee, Camille Moore, Anastaciah Ondieki and Jackson Walsh.


JJIE VW Journalism Project Awarded ISOJ Top Rated Research Paper

As if it was not a grand enough honor to present the JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project at the 17th International Symposium on Online Journalism last night, the research team was pleasantly surprised and greatly honored when presented with the ISOJ Top Rated Research Paper award for the project’s research, Journalism: How One University Used Virtual Worlds to Tell True Stories.

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Leonard Witt and Claire Bohrer accept the ISOJ Top Rated Research Paper award on behalf of the entire JJIE Virtual World Journalism research team.

 

All of us from the JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project Research Team would like to thank the #ISOJ for the opportunity to share our work at the conference in Austin, TX this weekend.

Moreover, we’d like to thank all who were involved with the project (aside from members of the research team), including ONA, who provided us with the funding to make the project possible, the JJIE staff members and Jim Walls, who taught us valuable lessons about investigative journalism, Fred Lewis and Claudette Enners, who supported and assisted with helpful knowledge during our weekly meetings, all our interviewees (from Steve Reba at the Barton Law Clinic at Emory who introduced us to the Christopher story, and Pete Colbenson, who shared his knowledge of juvenile justice, to the many people we interviewed to cover the stories), Kennesaw State University students and faculty who attended our campus presentation and helped to facilitate discussion of immersive journalism on campus, and lastly, the eleven student interns who worked tirelessly and collaboratively for 15+ weeks to bring this project to life. Thank you everyone!

For anyone interested in learning more about the project, visiting the JJIE Virtual World with your own avatar, or starting a similar project of your own, please do not hesitate to contact us directly through this site.

Also, please continue to follow our progress blog, as we ultimately hope to continue our project to expand the knowledge and possibilities of virtual world immersive journalism.

 


JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project Research Published to ISOJ


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For the past six months, members of the JJIE Virtual World Journalism team, Leonard Witt, Gwenette Writer Sinclair, Farooq Kperogi, Claire Bohrer and Solomon Negash have been working to compile the whole process and results discovered from the JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project into one cohesive research paper.

Finally, after all of the long hours of research, writing, and much collaboration, the JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project Research paper, Journalism: How One University Used Virtual Worlds to Tell True Stories, was published to #ISOJ, the official research journal of ISOJ, today, April 15, 2016. Read our journal article online here.

Along with the paper’s publication in the #ISOJ journal, the team was invited to present at The 17th International Symposium on Online Journalism in Austin, Texas, April 15-16, 2016. Today, April 15, between 4:45 – 6:00PM (Central Time), Leonard Witt, Gwenette Writer Sinclair and Claire Bohrer, as a part of a Research Panel, presented the JJIE Virtual World Journalism Project research on teaching immersive journalism in virtual worlds at universities.

You can view our presentation, along with all the other insightful presentations from various international editors, producers, executives, and academics on the ISOJ livestream. Look for us just after the 8:40:00 mark.


Introducing Immersive Journalism to Kennesaw State University

Last night, February 8, members of the JJIE Virtual World Team presented their Fall 2015 semester immersive journalism project to the students and faculty of Kennesaw State University.
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Beginning at 5:00PM, the Kennesaw State University Social Science auditorium #1021 was occupied by KSU students and faculty immersing themselves into Nonny de la Peña’s Sundance Film Festival virtual reality story, “Kiya.” Thanks to the donation from Unofficial Cardboard, makers of the Google Cardboard Viewers that the New York Times recommends for their Virtual Reality app (NYTVR), students and faculty were able to use Google Cardboard Viewers to see for themselves what this immersive journalism talk is about.

Once they had a feel for the emerging journalism platform, project interns, Claire Bohrer, Ariel Greenaway, and Camille Moore presented the project from their perspectives as the project’s journalists. Then, Leonard Witt, the project’s founder, presented another one of Nonny de la Peña’s videos, “One Dark Night,” in which actual 911 call recordings were used to tell the story of the day Trayvon Martin was shot & killed by neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.

After seeing an expert’s work, the audience watched the JJIE Virtual World Team’s machinimas, The Kid, The Cop, The Punch, and a few minutes of Christopher: A Child, Abandoned, Deprived & Imprisoned. Once the audience saw the team’s work, virtual world expert, Gwenette Writer-Sinclair took them inworld to the JJIE Virtual World to show them how the project interns created these machinimas (action videos inside a virtual world).

The remainder of the presentation consisted of Q&A and discussion. KSU students and faculty expressed their interest in this emerging journalism platform and the possibilities of virtual reality in multiple different realms.

To continue the conversation, the JJIE Virtual World Journalism team plans to present the project to KSU journalism classes and also at the KSU Marietta Campus within the next few weeks.
More details (and further fascinating conversation) to come.


JJIE Virtual World Team to Present at Kennesaw State University

As promised, the JJIE Virtual World Team will be presenting their fifteen + weeks of hard work to Kennesaw State University on Monday, February 8.
If you are a KSU student or faculty member, you have probably seen the multiple e-mails and flyers around campus regarding the project presentation. If you have yet to be informed about the presentation, below are the presentation details.
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Immersive Journalism. It’s the “ultimate empathy machine,” says Nonny de la Peña, journalist and pioneer of immersive journalism in the virtual world.

This past semester, a group of KSU students experimented with this concept when they used traditional journalism principles in the virtual world to tell real stories of youth in the Juvenile Justice System.

Come to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: Virtual World Journalism presentation to experience this “ultimate empathy machine,” learn about an emerging journalism platform and see how to use it.

WHAT?: JJIE Virtual World Journalism
WHEN?: Monday, February 8, 2016 @ 5:00PM – 6:00PM
WHERE?: Social Sciences Building, Room 1021

 


Project Overview Video

Now that the internship is officially over, the JJIE Virtual World Team is finally presenting their work to the world. Presentations began with CNN in December, and now, we plan to present to the students and faculty at Kennesaw State University.
Below is a video we created to give our audience an overview of the project.