I met Rebekah in the fall of 2015 when we began to work on a Virtual Reality (VR) Border Project with a goal of showing the world the “Border In Our Backyard” by immersing them with 360 degree (spherical is a more just term) video, binaural audio and excellent broadcast reporting skills that incorporate traditional 2D digital skills that we have acquired at the Cronkite School into the new medium of virtual reality. After less than three months, we covered Arizona edge to edge, visited migrant shelters in Mexico, took two Border Patrol ride alongs, met with Ranchers in Douglas, visited the Pima County Office of Medical Examiner in Tucson and spent a couple of days with Samaritans all to engage audiences with subjectification of reality: letting audiences create their own perception of why there is so much death in the desert through the subjectivity of our characters is the most transparent and honest process for documentation. This extra work creates presence to a story, no matter what medium, but this is why Rebekah’s project is so valuable.
Through our work between the New Media Innovation Lab, a startup we have founded with our excellent reporting team (called Terrainial) and her Missing From Mexico project, I believe we are doing something genuinely worthy, beyond money. Engaging those who deal with death has sustenance when you realize no one wants it nor knows what to do with yet are affected by it on a daily basis. We have found multiple truths, and what I appreciate about working with Rebekah is the willingness to expand upon our sources while retaining credible sources that are able to teach the rest of the world what is happening. I am excited to see what the effect people grasp within themselves and push out to the world after viewing our content.
Ryan Hayes is a student, videographer, photographer and multimedia journalist at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The Chicago native is known his creative brainstorming and contagious enthusiasm. His work includes At What Costs$? (2015), ORGANICITY (2014), Phoenix Uncut – Squat Life in Phoenix (2013).