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Virtual Reality Journalism : A new way of story telling

For filmmakers, virtual reality also presents a new way to tackle issues such as police brutality

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  • A virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a virtual segregation cell
  • Rather than just watching the action, virtual reality places viewers squarely in the middle of it
  • Virtual reality is quickly emerging as a tool in a journalist’s storytelling arsenal

To capture the experience of being imprisoned in a solitary confinement cell for their readers, editors at The Guardian newspaper collaborated with producers at The Mill, a virtual reality company, to create 6×9, a virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a virtual segregation cell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1us-VbK9Ka0&feature=youtu.be

The resulting video is unnerving in its authenticity. Incorporating ambient sound and audio excerpts from interviews with former prisoners, viewers experience what is likely to be the closest encounter with solitary confinement that they will ever have, short of visiting prison themselves.

“It was an incredible experience, I was sweating and my heart was beating really fast and it was really upsetting. I found myself tearing up a little bit. … It was a very emotional, physical and mental experience,” said Emilia Petrarca, who watched 6×9 at the Tribeca Film Festival’s “Storyscapes” event in New York City.

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Storytelling tool

For journalists, virtual reality is quickly emerging as another tool in their storytelling arsenal.

“It’s about access,” said Francesca Panetta, special projects editor at The Guardian. “This is access to a space and to an environment that you wouldn’t normally have,” she added.

Rather than just watching the action, virtual reality places viewers squarely in the middle of it. News organizations such as The New York Times and USA Today are discovering it’s a powerful medium for storytelling.

“It just opens the door to another level of immersion outside of just traditional filmmaking and just creates another level of sympathy as well, and empathy for the viewer,” said Jared Vladich, visual effects producer at The Mill.

Picture of the virtual segregation cell.
Picture of the virtual segregation cell. Image source: VOA

For filmmakers, virtual reality also presents a new way to tackle issues such as police brutality.

In “Perspective 2: The Misdemeanor,” viewers experience a violent police confrontation from the perspectives of both cop and civilian.

“You see a heated topic happen from one person’s eyes, sort of build empathy for that character, and then you see it from another person’s eyes,” said Morris May, CEO of Specular Theory, the company behind the film. Filming multiple perspectives required a day’s worth of repeated takes, during which the line between reality and fiction began to blur.

“People thought this accident was actually happening, so we have extras in the film that came by with their cellphones and started filming, not even realizing that this was a film shoot because there’s no camera visible and there’s no film crew visible at all,” May said.

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Generating revenue

In addition to the tricky mechanics of filming, virtual reality productions can be cost-prohibitive.

The Guardian‘s Panetta said, “For journalism, it’s quite expensive. So for a newspaper, which is an industry that its financial model is still being questioned, it’s a very expensive medium.”

At The New York Times, editors have found that partnering with advertisers is one way to generate income on virtual reality projects.

“We think there’s a good business here. Virtual reality is a powerful way to tell stories for journalists, but it’s also become a powerful way for brands to tell their stories,” said Sam Dolnick, associate editor at the Times.

The company has partnered with clients like Tag Heuer and Mini to create virtual-reality experiences that target Times readers.

“We think there’s a potential around virtual reality becoming some kind of premium offer, and whether that’s for subscribers, a new paywall, we’re experimenting, we’re thinking about it,” Dolnick added.

The New York Times has given away more than 1 million basic Google Cardboard viewers to subscribers. A recent virtual-reality experience transported viewers to the top of One World Trade Center with National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin, for breathtaking views of New York City.

With the new era demanding more from its people,the long-term profitability of virtual reality remains to be seen, and the new medium has journalists and filmmakers pushing the boundaries of storytelling.

-by Newsgram staff with inputs from VOA

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Google Fellowship Initiative for Journalism Students Opens Applications

Google fellowship in journalism aims to support students of colour

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journalism
The Google News Initiative Student Fellowship initiative has opened applications for a 10-12 weeks paid programme for students aspiring to build a career in journalism. Pixabay

The Google News Initiative Student Fellowship initiative, aimed at developing and supporting students of colour who are interested in careers in journalism, has opened applications for a 10-12 weeks paid programme.

The selected fellows will be given a travel payment of $1,000, plus a stipend of $5,000 for the course of the programme which will run from roughly September to December, Google said on Monday, adding that applications close on August 1.

“All fellows, who will have the opportunity to work remotely, will be selected by nine host newsrooms: Eugene Weekly, Houston Press, Isthmus, al Día en America, La Noticia, Vida Newspaper, the Washington Informer, the Omaha Star and the NNPA Newsroom,” Ashley Alese Edwards, U.S. Partnerships Manager, News Lab at Google, wrote in a blog post.

“Fellows will have the opportunity to work on editorial, revenue, and technology projects at the host publications.”

The newsrooms in the US often do not reflect the diversity of the audiences they cover.

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news Journalism
The newsrooms in the US often do not reflect the diversity of the audiences they cover. Pixabay

A 2019 survey by the American Society of News Editors estimates that less than a quarter of newsroom employees identify themselves as a person of colour, compared to the US population, which is 24 per cent. The percentage is even smaller for newsroom leadership.

Google said its News Initiative Student Fellowship programme intends to address the barriers of access to early career opportunities many students of colour face, as well as support investigative journalism, technological innovation, and digital transformation in local newsrooms that serve diverse and underrepresented populations.

“Lack of internship and fellowship opportunities contributes to why many U.S. newsrooms don’t reflect the communities they cover,” Edwards said. (IANS)

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“Unfair Practices Smack The Elections For Herricks Board of Education”, Claims Candidate Bhajan Ratra

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the elections will now be conducted exclusively by absentee ballot via US Mail

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Herricks
The Year 2020-21 School Budget Vote and its Board of Education Election is to be conducted on Tuesday, June 9th. Herricks.org

By Kashish Rai

The Herricks Board of Education is accredited by the New York State Board of Regents and the Middle School Association.

The Year 2020-21 School Budget Vote and its Board of Education Election is to be conducted on Tuesday, June 9th. Two seats in the board are being challenged. Henry R. Zanetti and James Gounaris are running for re-elections against challengers Bhajan S. Ratra and Tarantej S. Arora.

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the vote was postponed from its original date scheduled in May and it will now be conducted exclusively by absentee ballot via US Mail.

Challenger Bhajan S. Ratra is an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Baruch College and SUNY Farmingdale. He is a panel member on the content advisory and bias review committees of New York State Teaching Certification Examination and has served in the past on the standards setting committee for the NYS Regents exams. He claims that unfair practices and inappropriate approach is smacking the election for the board.

The preceding position holders- Zanetti and James Gounaris have violated the code of conduct by doing undesirable posts through social media.

In the below given screenshot it can be observed that they are instigating the audience to vote for them by posting a picture of the ballot having their names marked. They can also be seen getting criticized by a user questioning the “appropriateness” of the post.

Post
Screenshot of the facebook post by Gounaris tagging Henry Zanetti.

According to the rules, it is illegal to take selfies/ post the picture of the ballot during the time of election in New York. Zanetti and James were seen violating the rules, thus, Ratra claims that their candidature should be disqualified.

In the above added screenshot, it can also be seen that the incumbents have pointed out “yes” To the budget vote. This can be considered as an act of misleading the public regardless of prior audits. According to the rules, an incumbent can not urge the public to vote “yes”. This raises some very serious questions- Does the incumbent(s) has/have their personal interest in voting “Yes”?

Screenshot
Screenshot of the discussion by the audience in comments on the Facebook post by Gounaris.

Mr. Ratra states that the reason for him contesting the election is because of his will to serve his community being an educator. As a member of the board of education he wants to use his experience to influence the decisions taken by the board that will help to move the Herricks School district from good to great. Bhajan aims to establish a transparent approach between students, families, Teachers and board members.

Bhajan Ratra
Challenger Bhajan S. Ratra is an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Baruch College and SUNY Farmingdale. He is a panel member on the content advisory and bias review committees of New York State Teaching Certification Examination and has served in the past on the standards setting committee for the NYS Regents exams.

There were many issues emerging earlier in the board, among them which was an inordinate approach with the board’s budget. The NY State Auditors concluded that The Herricks school district consistently overspent its budget for custodians’ overtime pay — thousands of dollars in expenditures that in many cases may not have been necessary. Bhajan aims to focus on solving these very core issues, he says that he aims to take a stand but every time he tries, his voice gets dominated.

Headline
This picture represents the headline of the news story published on newsday.com which highlights the plight of mismanagement in budget of the Herricks Board.

Despite these frustrations and pressures, Bhajan has refused to give up because his only aim is to establish a clean and fair approach. In his concludary words Bhajan told NewsGram- “It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, my only aim is to serve my community in any possible way, these frustrations and pressures doesn’t affect me as I continue to take stand for my role and responsibility as someone who wants to contribute to the society”.

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Now, it is to be think upon~ what best possible action would be taken as far as the code of conduct and the rules are concerned with due respect to the elections. Here position doesn’t matter, what matters is ethics and the truth.

 

 

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New York State Allows Gatherings of up to 10 People

New York state loosens restrictions on gatherings

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new york
Restrictions loosen on New York State of USA as a gathering of upto 10 people is permitted now. Pixabay

The US state of New York now allows gatherings of up to 10 people for non-essential purposes, two months after a statewide order banned such gatherings of any size to curb spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests the Latest news on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order late on Friday to loosen the restrictions, stressing that people have to follow social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the state’s Department of Health, Xinhua reported.

Earlier this week, the governor permitted gatherings of such scale during the Memorial Day weekend for memorial ceremonies. Religious gatherings of the same scale have also been allowed since Thursday.

Cuomo said on Saturday that Long Island and Mid-Hudson could reopen next week, leaving New York City the only region in the state that will remain in the “PAUSE” order for a while.

new york
Restrictions are lifted two months after a statewide order banned such gatherings. Pixabay

New York City has not yet met two of the seven metrics the state-designed for reopening, which are the numbers of hospital beds and ICU beds available. But Cuomo said he expected the city to reopen in early June.

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On Friday, New York City unveiled three key metrics set by itself to track the progress toward reopening, which are daily new hospital admissions, the current number of ICU patients and the percentage of people testing positive, each with a single indicator threshold.

The daily death toll in New York State fell to 84, said Cuomo on Saturday, the first time that figure has dropped below 100 since the state went into a lockdown two months ago.

The overall statewide caseload rose to 359,926, with 1,772 new cases, said the governor. (IANS)