Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 49

promoted venture is in augmented and virtual reality, a medium that is projected to grow by 100 percent or more each year for the next four years. Much the way that Pruitt personi- fied the company’s swagger of the 1980s and 1990s, Forman, who joined McClatchy’s board of directors in 2013 and became president and CEO in ear- ly 2017, epitomizes McClatchy’s reach toward digital: He has a background in both tech and journalism, lives in San Francisco and commutes to Sac- ramento in a red Tesla. A former Wall Street Journal correspondent and To- kyo bureau chief, Forman went on to lead audience development and media divisions for EarthLink, Yahoo and Time Warner. The rest of the company’s 12-per- son board of directors includes a Google executive, the former CEO of Etsy, and the founder of a virtual real- ity startup. Forman told an audience of about 13,000 digital developers and engi- neers at an Adobe summit in March that McClatchy’s new mission is to find products that “save you time, save you money or delight you in some sur- prising new way.” The company will “innovate with intention and less with pure speculative experimentation,” he told the Las Vegas Crowd. But the reality of virtual and aug- mented reality is that their ability to be monetized by news organizations is still theoretical. The medium is in its infancy and not yet significantly prof- itable. For its part, McClatchy’s video views for the first quarter of 2018 are significantly higher than the same pe- riod last year (40 percent of total views in 2017), with video revenues up almost 50 percent during the same time. Perhaps the two most publicized examples of news-related VR pro- gramming to date, The Daily 360 by The New York Times and a VR feature Technologist J ulian Rojas tests audio compatibility with the Oculus Go headset at New Ventures Lab in Sacramento. photo : melanie jensen in the 2018 Winter Olympics, were both products of a Samsung sponsor- ship. But the emerging technology is a powerful storytelling medium that shouldn’t be ignored, says Laura Hertzfeld, director of Journalism 360, an AR/VR initiative by the Online News Association. “If we don’t invest, we will never know if there is a revenue-earning po- tential,” she says. For the last two decades, news- paper companies have missed every major technological advancement, and the lack of aggressiveness cost them their business model, says Alan Mutter, a new media ventures consul- tant and former assistant managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Immersive video “is highly unlikely to move the nee- dle for the McClatchy company, and yet they would be remiss if they didn’t try,” he says. Tech-Savvy Savior McClatchy's New Ventures Lab, formerly known as Video Lab West, sits on the second f loor of the newly renovated depot at Sacramento’s downtown train station. The space, which opened in mid-May June 2018 | comstocksmag.com 49