[Video by Sean O’Connor / Spovisual.com]
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It was my terrible experience of jury service at the Old Bailey, London’s oldest criminal court, that convinced me of the power of using comics to tell stories that couldn’t be told using traditional recording equipment. Since that day, I’ve produced comics on a wide range of social justice topics, from homelessness to human trafficking, using the drawn medium to protect his interviewees’ identities and ensure that their stories reach a wider audience.
I was a Knight journalism Fellow at Stanford University in 2011, where I focused on incorporating interactivity and multimedia into my work. I also spent a year in Nepal in 2012 where I produced the core materials for a pioneering study on the information campaigns adopted by NGOs in the field, which received funding from Humanity United and the US Department of Labor. My work has been featured in Vice magazine, the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting corporation, American Public Media, Fusion and many others (including Playboy) as well as in the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons 2013 report. My recent fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri gave me the opportunity to experiment with more immersive techniques, such as virtual reality and pushing comics across multiple platforms (from mobile to tablet to desktop). Together with Harvard Birkman fellow Hasit Shah, I was awarded a Knight Prototype grant in 2015 to develope a smartphone app that would use comics to disseminate critical information across non-traditional networks in Gujarat, India. Ketla has its roots in the longstanding partnerships I’ve forged with NGOs such as Save the Children and World Education to combat sensitive issues such as neonatal death and child sexual abuse at a grassroots level around the world.
Last year I founded the company Empathetic Media (www.empatheticmedia.com) a transmedia agency that uses graphic journalism, virtual and augmented reality to tell news stories in an immersive new way. Ferguson Firsthand, the first VR experience from Empathetic, was published by Fusion in 2015 and has been featured by Wired, Killscreen, Mic, Ars Technica, Nieman Storylab and the BBC Future of News report. Arc, Empathetic’s first augmented reality app, will launch in March 2016 and features content from the Associated Press and the Washington Post. EM’s current project, I Survived, is comprised of three immersive experiences from three sides of the Colombian conflict (civilians, ex-FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas and the paramilitaries), as they share their true stories of how the violence has affected them and their community.