Mariana Santos is the interactive and animation director at Fusion and the Knight Innovator in Residence at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Miami is fast becoming a center for innovation. Entrepreneurs and investors are showing the rest of the world what a tech hub of the future looks like. Knight Foundation, together with the International Center for Journalists, the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University and Florida International University are investing in Miami, and helping attract talented people from Latin America, across the U.S. and around the world. Miami’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. People from different backgrounds and with different ideas are building a community here unlike anywhere else. Earlier this month, we held the Media Party Miami to replicate the success of the original event in Buenos Aires, bringing together the women and men making waves in design, film, music and journalism. This year media organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela attended, while Fusion, Univision and the New Tropic represented Miami’s media scene. The LAB Miami in the Wynwood Arts District was the ideal venue for the Media Party. Not not only is it home to Wyncode Academy, which is training scores of future developers, but it also houses the offices of dozens of creative startups. We kicked off the Media Party with Robert Hernandez, a veteran web journalist and associate professor at the University of Southern California. Robert showed us how augmented reality and virtual reality are creating a new kind of storytelling, “immersive journalism.” Dan Archer, founder of Empathetic Media, followed up with a session on using the Unity game development platform to create 3-D storytelling experiences. He even showed how to create 3-D models of people with a digital scanner. Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami, gave a rundown on data visualization, and Nuno Vargas, founder of DataStory, explained “design thinking” and why we need it. Olman Hernandez of Fusion Interactive showed us how the company uses 360-degree video, and Knight Fellows from Stanford explained the program.
Mariana Santos is the interactive and animation director at Fusion and the new Knight Innovator in Residence at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Photo credit: Carolina Wilson on Flickr. I recently finished a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University and returned to Miami ready to apply new skills and a startup mindset to my job as Fusion Network’s interactive and animation director. However, when the opportunity to be the new Knight Innovator in Residence at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication came up, it was just too good to pass up. I thought, Why not do both? Since the school and Fusion are both leaders that are setting the path to innovation in Miami’s media scene, why not combine the best of the professional and academic worlds into one big innovation package? As the new Knight Innovator at FIU, I look forward to changing the way academic journalism is taught, by bringing a multidisciplinary approach to the curriculum, organizing hackathons for teamwork, and bringing my artists, journalists, developers, designers and activists to events where journalism meets arts, design and technology. I look forward to breaking all the boundaries of digital storytelling with the fresh ideas that students bring to the conversation, pairing it with the real needs of the industry, a perspective I can provide from my newsroom at Fusion, addressing real topics on the spot. I believe this will prepare students not only with the skills they need but with the startup mindset and leadership attitude they need to transform journalism: “Just do it!” My main motivation in applying for this position was the respect I have for the work FIU and its School of Journalism and Mass Communication have been delivering in Florida, especially within the world of journalism. The school has been creating great professionals, preparing them with insights for real-world jobs, always looking for ways to improve the system. It complements my own experience; I have worked in several countries, faced different media landscapes, and that has provided me with insights on how to serve different information needs across Europe, Latin America and now the U.S. I have the drive, passion and vision to bring a lot of innovation to journalism, helping people focus on the big picture, and I will keep opening doors and being a disruptor by delivering fresh ideas.