By Sarah Keneipp, news correspondent
“As journalists, we get to reinvent journalism,” said Media Innovation program coordinator Jeff Howe.
Ochre, a visual storytelling platform, was introduced to Northeastern University in early February, allowing journalists to weave together animation, design and sound to create one cohesive story, according to Howe. The blog exclusively showcases longform visual storytelling.
Media Innovation program coordinator and Ochre overseer Dina Kraft said that Ochre is more visual than its predecessors.
“People are thinking differently about these stories, and the beauty of Ochre is looking for wonderful and inspiring pieces that people are putting their souls into,” Kraft said. “I want students to be inspired and learn on a practical level, to be able to walk the walk and make beautiful pieces.”
Ochre was brought to the journalism department by Storybench and the Media Innovation program after Blue Chalk Media, a production and media strategy company located in Brooklyn, N.Y., gifted the blog to Northeastern, said Howe.
Ochre will join current digital storytelling program Storybench and StoryLab, which are collaborations between the Media Innovation program and Esquire magazine.
“The industry is in flux,” according to Ochre’s about page. “New tools are rapidly bringing down the barriers to entry in creative fields. Traditional career paths are being sidelined by passion projects and startups.”
“The Boat: Navigating new waters of an online graphic novel” was the first story posted by a Northeastern Media Innovation student. The article is about Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service’s (SBS) first interactive graphic novel, “The Boat.” Media Innovation graduate program alumna Yingchi Wei published the story on Feb. 5.
Wei depicts the graphic novel with bolded out-quotes scattered throughout the webpage and black and white charcoal-like artwork by Matt Huynh for SBS.
“I felt like playing a puzzle when I tried to decide where I should put an image or a quote,” Wei said in an email to The News. “You just need to play around with it until you find the perfect spot.”
The articles on the site are divided into three categories: The head, heart and hands of Ochre.
The head represents the industry-shift of executing and monetizing nonfiction storytelling. The heart is the inspiration that drives people to make visually-compelling work, and the hands are the new tools changing the way people tell stories visually, according to Ochre’s website.
At Northeastern, Ochre will be used as a tool for undergraduate and graduate students to gain experience in the journalism field.
“It is a vision of mine that students have a lot of editorial outlets,” Howe said. “Doctors aren’t just thrown into hospitals; they have residencies, they are interns […] Ochre [is] nurtured with ideas to give journalists experience.”
Currently, there are 17 students in the Media Innovation program.
“We need to learn new technology as journalists,” Howe said. “This 15-month [Media Innovation] program offers something that no one else does.”
Photo by Robert Smith