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College of Media, Gazette-Mail video recognized by Newseum

Each month, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., features the best in virtual reality. This month, the WVU Reed College of Media and the Charleston Gazette-Mail made the top 10.

The 360° video, “West Virginia Flood Recovery,” is featured on Newseum’s Top 10 VR Videos of the Month for November. College of Media Senior Lecturer David Smith and journalism senior Jennifer Gardner of Charleston, West Virginia, shot and produced the video, which was highlighted on wvgazettemail.com.

The video gives viewers an immersive look at cleanup efforts following the June 23 floods that devastated parts of southern West Virginia. 
Gardner, a former student of Smith’s, was working for the Gazette-Mail as a summer intern when he came to her with the idea of covering the floods using 360° video cameras.

“The 360° video of the flood is powerful because people can understand the damage from a unique perspective,” said Gardner “Viewers can interact with the scenery because they are immersed within it and can explore the flood zones for themselves through their mobile devices.”

The video can be viewed with a phone or computer on Facebook and Youtube, or viewed in a VR headset such as a Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift.

The College of Media has been an early adopter of immersive media technology, incorporating experimental techniques into the curriculum since 2013.
Smith, who has taught two experimental journalism classes at WVU, says being featured in the Newseum shows the College is moving in the right direction when it comes to media and innovation.

“Google, GoPro, Huffington Post, NY Times and National Geographic are all showcased within the Newseum,” said Smith, “Our College and the Charleston Gazette-Mail being featured alongside these names validates our emphasis on new ways of storytelling. Right now viewers see 360° video as a novelty but soon it will be mainstream.”

“West Virginia Flood Recovery” was selected based on a submission process and will be featured in the Newseums’ Top 10 VR Videos through the first part of December.

The Newseum, headquartered in Washington, D.C., promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. The Newseum offers seven levels of interactive exhibits include 15 galleries and 15 theaters. View their video online.