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American Today

Campus News

YouTube Contest Leads to AU

By Sally Acharya

YouTube came to AU last week with an Oscar-style ceremony at the Greenberg Theatre for nonprofessional documentary makers who posted their work on the online video site.

YouTube’s first reporting contest for aspiring video journalists culminated with an awards ceremony and screening cohosted by AU’s School of Communication on Jan. 11.

“We agree passionately with the arc of this project,” SOC dean Larry Kirkman said of Project: Report, which was put together by YouTube and the Pulitzer Center and encouraged videographers to document communities not usually covered by the media. “This is documentary storytelling and solutions-oriented journalism at its best.”

Project: Report contestants reported on ordinary people making extraordinary differences in their communities and local stories with global implications. The focus of the project dovetailed with an area of growing significance at SOC as reflected in courses in community and ethnic media, the Center for Social Media, the upcoming Making Your Media Matter conference, and the programs offered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

“These videos tap into an enormous audience with a hunger for authentic voices and stories and a need for reporting that builds community to solve social problems,” Kirkman noted at the event. The winning video, a response to an assignment to engage members of a community that seldom has a media voice, looks at a living community of learning disabled adults. Called Ability, it can be seen on YouTube along with the work of other finalists.