UBC Journalism students, alumni and adjunct faculty have received four nominations at this year’s Digital Publishing Awards.
The students and faculty behind Hidden in Plain Sight: Stories of Migration & HIV in Chile have been nominated for their innovative use of Virtual Reality 360 video and a live installation event in the Best Digital Initiative category.
Hidden in Plain Sight was produced as part of the International Reporting Program at the UBC School of Journalism, in partnership with VICE News.
The project tells the story of a 30-year rise in HIV in Chile and a parallel story of migrant workers flooding to the country in search of economic opportunity.
“These were stories that no one was talking about, about people who no one was talking about,” said UBC Journalism alum Peter Mothe, who pitched the story as part of the International Reporting course.
“Our goal going into these stories was to highlight the ways in which these big topics — health and immigration — affect people on the ground, and how poor policy can actually impact lives in very negative ways.”
VR as a ‘power tool’ for storytelling
The issues were told using a combination of VR experiences, short video documentaries and a live installation event.
“The medium of virtual reality proved a power tool to tell the story of a deeply personal disease,” said assistant professor Taylor Owen, who led the course.
The documentaries take viewers into intimate conversations with people living with HIV, as well as those who are dedicating their lives to preventing the continued spread of the disease.
The project was launched at a public screening event in Vancouver on May 2016 to an audience of over 250 people.
Guests were invited to watch the two documentaries and engage with two immersive VR experiences using Samsung GearVR and Oculus Rift headsets.
The project was the first of its kind to use virtual reality at UBC School of Journalism. A new module in virtual reality journalism was taught by Owen in the winter term of 2017.
Recognition for UBC Journalism community
Alumni Christopher Cheung is also nominated for his short feature article on suburbs with immigrant influences for The Tyee.
Adjunct professor James MacKinnon is nominated for his feature piece for Hakai Magazine.
In the Best Digital Editorial Package category, adjunct professor Caitlin Havlak is nominated for her contribution to Discourse Media’s Power Struggle.
The Digital Publishing Awards aim to promote and reward the achievements of those who create digital publishing content in Canada.
The winners of 2017 Digital Publishing Awards will be announced on June 1 in Toronto.