By Adrienne Andrews
ATHENS, GA (June 5, 2016) – In the 10 years since the National Press Photographers Association’s Multimedia Immersion Workshop began, there has been a mountain of change in the visual storytelling industry. Luckily the workshop has managed to keep up with all of the changes in its effort to provide immersive, hands-on training to each new generation of multimedia visual journalists, thanks mostly to the immense efforts each year by Seth Gitner and Will Sullivan.
The workshop that wrapped up at the end of May was event’s 10th anniversary, and it went more smoothly and more cohesively than in years past, said co-director Will Sullivan. But the workshop was also capped with the announcement that Sullivan, who has been with the seminar since its inception in 2006, will step down as co-director in order to pursue other personal and professional projects.
“This is the longest thing I've done in my entire life, working on it for a decade,” Sullivan said. “It's been a worthy investment, and something that's definitely paid me back a lot in my career and personally. It's bittersweet to walk away, but there's some other projects that I want to make my mark on in changing the world.”
Sullivan will go on to work with projects such as 18F, a group working for President Barack Obama to restructure the government’s digital infrastructure, and philanthropies including Awesome Foundation D.C. ,and advising several tech start ups including Roost.
“People change, and I feel that he has other avenues that he wants to go save the world in a different direction,” said Gitner, Sullivan’s co-director. “He's been a fabulous partner and I'm going to miss him as we move forward.”
The MMI workshop this year drew students from fields as diverse as advertising and academia, and it focused on the changing technological climate in multimedia journalism, as well as equipping its students with the storytelling tools to hook and hold an audience with engaging media. The students were paired off in small groups with coaches and were charged with creating a video story about something in the surrounding community. Through hands-on training, panels, and one-on-one time with the faculty, each student discovered a protagonist, issue and story worthy of exploration.
“The end videos were pretty consistently amazing, especially with some of the places some of the students came from,” Sullivan said. Gabriel Tait is a professor of multimedia journalism at Arkansas State University and he attended the workshop based on its promising legacy. Tait, who wanted to become more comfortable with video storytelling, found the workshop fulfilled all of his expectations and provided more tools for him to use in his classroom.
"I think the foundation that those men and the team, with the support of NPPA, have laid is something that is worth the investment,” Tait said. “As a lifelong NPPA member, I really believe that this is one of those workshops that should remain a pillar in the NPPA arsenal for training visual journalists.”
Videos from the workshop panels and exercises, as well as the videos produced by the 2016 Multimedia Immersion students, can be found at https://vimeo.com/multimediaimmersion/videos.