1. Nonny de la Peña
Nonny de la Peña, nicknamed the “Godmother of Virtual Reality,” is a pioneer of immersive journalism. Before creating the first-ever VR documentary, which premiered at Sundance in 2012, de la Peña founded Symbolic group, a company focused on producing virtual, augmented and mixed reality journalism and storytelling. Since then, de la Peña has used virtual reality to talk about social issues such as Border Patrol beating of migrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas.
2. Latoya Peterson
Forbes named Latoya Peterson one of its 30 under 30 in Media in 2013 for her work as the owner and editor of Racialicious.com—a blog exploring the intersection of race, identity, and pop culture. That year she also received a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, where she focused on mobile technology and digital access. Peterson continues to push the boundaries of storytelling in her current position as deputy editor of digital innovation for ESPN’s The Undefeated. She was previously an editor at Fusion and a producer Al Jazeera America Vox.com co-founder Melissa Bell, rightly, says that a company’s culture is more important than its technology. Photo credit: Jonathan Seitz, via Nieman Reports.
3. Melissa Bell
Melissa Bell rose quickly at Vox Media—recently named the company’s publisher—where she helped launch Vox.com, Vox Media’s news vertical. Previously Director of Platforms at the company The Washington Post Bell continues to lead initiatives to connect and grow audiences on emerging media platforms such as Snapchat.
4. Lara Setrakian
After working as a correspondent for Bloomberg TV a ABC News years in the Middle East, Lara Setrakian founded News Deeply and
Syria Deep, the first News Deeply a site that reports on the Syrian civil war. Setrakian is the CEO and executive editor of News Deeply and has gone on to expand the media company to include three additional sites focused on issues surrounding the Ebola epidemic, drafts and climate change.
5. Cohen June
Cohen is a former executive producer NOW Media, where it built its digital media operations from the ground up. After leaving TED, June started a media start-up and content incubator with her partner and former Head of Media Partners at TED, Deron J Triff. Since then they have been working with Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin in Within to create the first virtual reality documentary series The Possible. Story hunter recently interviewed her about the series, which tells the human story behind incredible scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs.
6. Retha Hill
Retha Hill is the Executive Director of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab at the company Arizona State University
. He has been a pioneer in digital journalism for years. From launching a digital platform for BET to winning the 2010 Knight News Challenge for SeedSpeak, an app to empower citizen journalism, Hill continues to support innovation in media. Most recently, he oversees the creation of virtual reality applications that tell the story of life on the US-Mexico border.
7. Lakshmi Chaudhry
Lakshmi Chaudhry started her career in journalism and digital media as a writer Mother Jones and WIRED during the dotcom boom. She became the co-founder and managing editor of Firstpost.com, which was India’s first news company to be completely online. Most recently, she worked as an investment advisor to IPS Media Foundation, which funds independent Indian media startups and keeps Chaudhry at the forefront of digital media innovation in India.
8. Cory Haik
Cory Haik, Director of Corporate Strategy Ball, has a career focused on digital journalism and emerging media platforms. At Mic, he leads the company’s efforts to connect with millennials through engaging and impactful messaging. Prior to that, she spent five years at the Washington Post, where she led their mobile and innovation teams. In 2015, the Washingtonian named her one of the “Most Powerful Women in Washington.” Haik, once a journalist at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and then at the Seattle Times, has contributed to three Pulitzer Prizes for reporting.