Kelechukwu Iruoma and Ruth Olorounbi are winners of the second phase of the Microsoft Modern Journalism program which focuses on immersive storytelling. The journalists will be reporting on the aftermath of oil spills in Ogoniland, Nigeria. They will receive special grants to involve audiences in real-time news gathering and storytelling of important news events.
Microsoft’s modern journalism program is in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). The initiative helps journalists use innovative ways that enhance news coverage and connect more deeply with their audiences. The first phase focused on data analysis. Kenya environment and health reporter Verah Okeyo, was a grantee of the first phase of the program early this year. The second phase focuses on immersive storytelling. Microsoft says they will receive funding and training to pioneer storytelling using immersive technologies like livestreaming and mixed reality.
ICFJ says the two Nigerian reporters will explore the effect of oil spills on community health. Integrating elements such as livestreaming to reach out to new audiences.
Freelance journalist Kelechukwu lruoma and Per Second News business editor Ruth Olurounbi will use drone footage and lab testing to investigate the long-term health effects of repeated oil spills in the Niger Delta.
As part of their investigation, they will work with health professionals to conduct lab testing on 50 people across Ogoniland, a kingdom in southern Nigeria’s Rivers State hit by the country’s first major oil spill in 1970. An average of 240,000 barrels of crude oil are spilled in the delta every year, according to the Nigerian Medical Journal. Studies link oil spills to cancer, childhood malnutrition and low fertility.
As their award they will receive $7,500, hands-on training in tools and techniques and instruction in relevant Microsoft technologies.