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Film and Future

Film and Future

FILM AND FUTURE
Students learn with old-school film series and get latest in immersive journalism
 
Students can learn a lot about how a journalist embraced new technologies to stay ahead of the curve through the biography of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.
 
Old school, you say? Well, yes, but one new technology Hearst exploited—talking movies—helped to build the Hollywood film industry that still exists a century later. Journalism students today compete for Hearst Awards in his name.
 
Thanks to Assistant Professor David Stephenson, students in the Spring 2019 semester will learn about journalism old school in a film series at the same time they will go new school with some of the latest technologies in immersive journalism. Implementing the film series is a team effort with help from Assistant Professor Kyra Hunting of the Media Arts and Studies faculty.
 
"My hope is that students will be inspired and informed all while being entertained with the films," Stephenson said. "I also hope that students outside of our major will come away with an appreciation and understanding of how vital a free press is to keeping those in power accountable."
 
Stephenson, who won Photographer of the Year Awards for news and sports in Kentucky and honors from the National Press Photographers Association for his work at the Lexington Herald-Leader, started teaching full time at UK in 2014. He earned his master’s degree in Digital Storytelling at Asbury University in 2017 and will complete his MFA in Film and Television Production in May 2019.
 
To keep his skills sharp, he remains a freelance photojournalist and was featured on KET as "The Pigeon Photographer," having started a small business in 2016 around his passion for racing and show pigeons.
 
The film series opens Jan. 31 with "Spotlight," which won the 2016 Academy Award for best picture. It tells the story of how Marty Baron, then the new editor of the Boston Globe, oversaw the "Spotlight" investigation of a decades-long coverup of serial sexual abuse by priests within the Boston Archdiocese. 
 
The Globe's coverage won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. Baron is now editor of the Washington Post. "Spotlight" will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in the Worsham Theater of the Gatton Student Center.
 
Baron, editor of his Lehigh University student newspaper, graduated from college in 1976, the year the second movie in the film series, "All the President's Men," was nominated for Best Picture, but instead won four other Academy Awards. 
 
"All the President's Men" tells the story of how Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee led two young reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, on the Watergate investigation that led to the first and only resignation of an American president, Richard Nixon, in 1974. "All the President's Men" will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in the Worsham Theater of the Gatton Student Center.
 
The film series continues with "Good Night, and Good Luck," the story of how CBS News legend Edward R. Murrow faced down U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy over Red Scare fears in the 1950s that Communists were infiltrating the government. The film will be shown at 6 p.m. Friday, April 5, in the Worsham Theater of the Gatton Student Center. 
 
The journalism school hosted one of the first viewings of "Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)," a passion project of actor and director George Clooney, when his father, Nick Clooney, a Kentucky Journalism Hall of Famer, introduced the film to students and faculty in the Worsham Theater of the old Student Center.
 
This semester Stephenson is fine-tuning his JOU 497, Virtual Reality Storytelling, course, which debuted in Spring 2017 and is cross-listed with MAS 390, Special Topics in Media Production.
 
"We spend time researching and seeing what the innovators are doing with immersive storytelling whether it be fiction, non-fiction or entertainment like gaming," Stephenson said.  
 
The students study the New York Times, a leader in the journalism world of immersive storytelling, including augmented reality (AR) stories. In the final phase of the class, students produce their own 360-degree videos. 
 
"Immersive storytelling, at its best, will transport a viewer to another place to witness or experience a story that can’t be told using only words or still photos or 2D video," Stephenson said. "It is an experience that can create an empathy and understanding that is as close to actually being there as you can get. We use camera placement, sound and good story choice decisions to guide us."
 
Hearst Awards for photojournalism and multimedia are on the mind of Stephenson, who continues to serve as an adviser to the Kentucky Kernel.
 
"The Kernel journalists have been competing very well in the past few years, winning Top 10 positions in writing and photography against the best students in the country."
 
Just like talking movies were in their infancy for Hearst, immersive journalism is still experimental.
 
"In the past ten years, the technology developments have put it in everyone’s pockets and at relatively low prices," Stephenson said. "We don’t know precisely how it will evolve next, but our history will certainly help guide us."
 
In the spirit of Hearst, Stephenson is looking forward to continuing the film series in Fall 2019 with the showing of "Citizen Kane."
 
You can read more about what Stephenson's students are doing on his course blog: http://vrjamlab.com/uk-class-meets-in-virtual-reality/
 
"We are limited only by our imaginations," he said.