Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 50

n MEDIA Craig Forman addresses the crowd at the launch of New Ventures Lab in May 2018. "WE'RE DEEPLY COMMITTED TO THIS CITY AND TO INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.” — Craig Forman, CEO, McClatchy 50 | June 2018 after more than a year in the making, is a mashup between a movie studio and a modern open-design tech office. A couple large soundproofed rooms will act as labs for various experiments in virtual reality. In true tech fashion, just about every piece of furniture and equipment is on wheels. The idea is to have in-house jour- nalists and technologists working with a rotating group of “storytellers- in-residence” to create coverage that is more immersive and cutting-edge. The name change seeks to convey that McClatchy will use the space to host video R&D, podcasting, events and corporate partnerships. A separate en- deavor, the McClatchy New Ventures Fund, will invest in related seed and early-stage startups. Here’s how the lab could potential- ly work in one of its markets: Instead of covering Sacramento’s proposed streetcar with a print story and a companion video of another streetcar rolling through an urban neighbor- hood, a project by the New Ventures Lab could allow users to lift up their smartphones and actually see a com- puter-generated Sacramento streetcar in motion. The New Ventures Lab could even host an event where at- tendees strapped on a headset and walked around inside a simulated streetcar. “It’s the birth of a medium. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We’re here for the start of it, and we’re excited to see where it’s going to go,” says Sims, who is McClatchy’s director of strate- gic video initiatives. Sims came to McClatchy three years ago to help launch its original Video Lab in Washington, D.C. The idea was to have a central video production space for all the McClatchy newsrooms. Using immersive technology, Mc- Clatchy has already brought viewers inside a prison in Guantanamo Bay and the tunnel leading to the field of a North Carolina State football game. In 2016, videographers teamed up with reporters at the McClatchy- owned Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas to cover a true-life version of “Friday Night Lights” about a football team in Aledo, Texas. The documen- tary was released straight to Facebook Watch, the company’s on-demand service, and attracted 23 million views last year. The following year, McClatchy won a Pulitzer Prize for its Panama Papers project that involved a collaboration of 100 media outlets, and the Video Lab illustrated the story about offshore banking with a motion graphic video. The company maintains that everything it does supports public interest journalism — that’s the flag- ship product that keeps readers and advertisers interested, says Elaine Lintecum, McClatchy’s chief financial officer. As a symbol of that commit- ment, McClatchy has started stamping headlines with its #ReadLocal hashtag on social media. Lintecum, who joined the company in 1988, notes that the growing revenue from digital ads