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Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Offers New Documentary Award

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film is now accepting applications for its 2016 grant program.

Their call for 2016 entries is now open for both documentary photography and short film submissions.

The foundation seeks outstanding entries focusing on the lives and populations ravaged by human suffering and unrest, forgotten communities, exploited lands and people, on communities ravaged by war, poverty, famine, disease, and the exploitation of global resources.

One winning submission in each category will be selected by a jury. The foundation awards a $5000 grant for the production or completion of a documentary photography project, and a $5000 prize for a social documentary film.

2016 entries must be received by March 31, 2016.

Learn more and apply at www.mrofoundation.org.

About the Foundation

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film is a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Organization committed to positive social discourse in underrepresented communities throughout the world by encouraging emerging and established photographers working in around the world to keep their lenses fixed on the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Headquartered in New York, with a presence in Paris and Zurich, the foundation is a charitable trust serving the international photographic community through exhibitions, publishing, grants, and other curatorial projects.

Established in 2010, the foundation aims to encourage a new generation of photographers, armed with only a camera and a vision of a better world, to take to the streets every day and document humanity on the move. For additional information, please visit www.mrofoundation.org.

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MediaStorm Celebrates 10 Years

A lot happened in 2005.

A seismic shift was underway. YouTube launched. Major newspapers were at the precipice of a decline in revenue, which would fall by over 50% in the next ten years.

In my little corner of the world a dream was taking shape. I had spent 10 years working for MSNBC.com and Corbis trying to shape a way forward in visual journalism. At a time when many mourned the “death” of the profession itself, I was excited at what was now possible.

I was fascinated by the idea that I could use new technologies to innovate on how we report, present and distribute stories. I refused to believe that it was impossible or financially unsustainable.

Most important, I knew the world would always need well crafted stories and those that could deliver them. Storytellers provide the mirrors we need to see ourselves and, more importantly, each other. Storytelling replaces anonymity with humanity, making it possible for us to understand things that seem otherwise far away, or worse, irrelevant.

MediaStorm 2.0

I launched MediaStorm in 2005 with the deep belief that audiences around the world could and would discern quality content when they saw it. I wasn’t after money – there are much better ways to make money – I was interested in telling stories that mattered, ones that could make a difference in the world. What I knew to be true was that people act on their conscious, they just needed to a way to authentically connect. What they needed was intimate stories that brought you face to face with people, took you inside their homes and their lives in a way that made it impossible to look away when confronted with some of the horrors our stories have exposed.

One of the many gifts of running my own company was that I had the privilege of giving each story the time and space to make it work. Over the years we have learned that a story can always get better, if you just give it time.

This philosophy has driven much of our success. Today, our Publication contains over thirty award-winning stories from some of the best storytellers in the industry. We were told no one would want to hear the stories in Intended Consequences, of the children born of rape in Rwanda, or of Kingsley’s Crossing, the story of a young man trying to escape endless poverty in Cameroon. We published them anyway and Kingsley’s Crossing earned us our first Emmy and Intended Consequences our first duPont Award in Journalism.

Founder Brian Storm presents the evolution of MediaStorm on November 2, 2015 at the IFP Media Center in Brooklyn, NY.

The MediaStorm Platform

We haven’t been satisfied with just telling the important stories of our time. Innovation is at the heart of our company and nowhere has this been more evident than with the development of the MediaStorm Platform, a disruptive video playback and content management system that gives storytellers control of how they package, monetize and distribute content.

People said that in the world of YouTube and Vimeo, we’d be crazy to develop our own technology. But to sustain ourselves financially, we knew we had to know our audience, control how we package and brand our films, and get people to pay for our stories. Yes, you have to be on YouTube. Yes, you have to excite your communities on Vimeo. But at the end of the day, if no one is willing to say that they value your work at the price of a cup of coffee, then you’re going to spend a lot less time making work that matters, and a lot more time creating high volume, low paying perishable work.

The MediaStorm Platform, supported by a brilliant team of developers and designers that have walked through these doors over the past five years, is the toolset that has enabled MediaStorm to stay true to our values. It’s allowed us to learn about our audience, engage them by offering calls to action, charge a minimal amount for content we’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars creating, and ultimately has allowed us to control how our work is viewed around the web. Some of our most viewed work–like Undesired, Intended Consequences, and ICP Infinity Award Winner David Guttenfelder would never have gotten noticed in the way they did were it not for the MediaStorm Platform.

Today, we’ve licensed the Platform to clients that are dedicated to empowering storytellers to survive the digital landscape–including the Sundance Institute, Fork Films, and the International Center for Transitional Justice. We’re humbled by their endorsement of our vision and hope that it will inspire other storytellers to join the movement to gain back control of how their work is viewed, distributed, and monetized.

Spreading the Gospel

The spirit of innovation led us to think critically about how we help prepare and support the next generation of storytellers for a changing world. The MediaStorm Training Program emerged both as a way to do this and to inspire storytellers of all backgrounds to keep pushing the boundaries of the craft and of their own abilities. We developed these programs after years of hearing the same thing over and over again:

  • What does it take to develop character-driven narratives with high production values on the web?

  • How can I do this work and stay alive financially?

  • How do I build audience?

  • How can my stories create impact?

We haven’t completely solved many of these quandaries, but we have made progress. And we have always been happy to share those results. Our training has been one of my proudest contributions to the profession I care so deeply about. Through it, we have trained hundreds of people in-person and scaled this effort significantly through our online training. In giving access to our methodology, philosophies, and techniques to both professionals and students at universities throughout the country, MediaStorm has, I hope, had a hand in preparing the next generation of storytellers to thrive.

The People

Thousands of entrepreneurs have said this over and over, but it bears repeating; people are what turn a business from one guy working in his socks to a team of professionals working to change their part of the universe. And that’s been exactly true for MediaStorm. It takes a team to nurture a story, to build technology, to run a business. Perhaps what I am most proud of is the amazing people who have helped build MediaStorm. The MediaStorm community extends across the globe and is inclusive of many different skills. But we all have one thing in common–a profound love and respect of story.

Testimonials on MediaStorm’s impact from staff, alumni, clients, workshop participants and educators for MediaStorm’s 10 year anniversary. Please share your comments via video or in writing and send to info@mediastorm.com.

The people who make up the MediaStorm community are not just our staff, alumni, contributors, and workshop participants, but also our clients. These are the people who took a chance on a young, independant company in the early days of digital storytelling–like Doug Menuez, National Geographic, and the the Los Angeles Times–who gave us the hope and resources we needed to even imagine a future. They have shaped who we are in so many ways–they taught us to think critically about audience engagement and voice. They have encouraged us to leverage our digital savvy to create social media campaigns that both lead to a wider audience and ask audiences to act. We’ve stretched our muscles in every way because our clients have demanded it. And we’re a much better company because of it.

To our clients and contributors–I say thank you for making it possible for us to achieve our greatest goal: doing what we love to do for ten years, for allowing us to work with purpose and clarity towards a common goal. At a time when the voice of independent media is at peril, your support has meant the difference between life and death.

To the staff and alumni–thank you for being soul and voice of MediaStorm. For dedicating your time and talents to co-creating a unique culture that I am blessed to call home.

Celebrating 10 years

Anniversaries are milestones to cherish. The last few weeks have been both intense and emotional. It’s not often that I take the time to reflect on what has happened over the course of a decade. I’m always so excited about what we are currently working on that it’s difficult to look back.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to wake up each day and focus on work that I love. I’m thankful for encouragement and support we have received over the past weeks from:

James Estrin at the New York Times: The Killer App: Storytelling
Alan Taylor at the Atlantic: Making a Decade of Quality Storytelling
and from members of our community.

Share your thoughts

In reflecting back on the past decade we’ve heard some amazing things from our subscribers, clients, contributors and partners. We’d love to hear from you as well.

What has MediaStorm meant to you? Have any of our stories shifted your perspective in some way? Have we impacted the way you think about and develop your own work? Have you used our online training? Have you found inspiration in any way from our work? What do you hope MediaStorm will do in the future?

We’d love to include your thoughts on our digital channels. Please share your comments via video or in writing and send to info@mediastorm.com.

And finally, to you our audience, thank you for choosing us. Thank you for saying that you believe in supporting the stories and storytellers that define a generation. Thank you for the value you have placed on the story and the belief you’ve placed in us in telling those stories.

Posted in MediaStorm Announcements | 1 Response

Griffin Museum Of Photography Announces 2015 Focus Award Recipients

The Griffin Museum of Photography announced the recipients of its tenth annual Focus Awards.

“This year’s Focus awardees are a combination of local and international photography trendsetters and innovators. The Focus Awards recognize the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of a select group of enthusiastic, creative individuals and organizations dedicated to the art and business of photography,” says Paula Tognarelli, executive director of the Griffin Museum.

This year’s Focus Award recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement – Karen Sinsheimer
Rising Star – Kat Kiernan
Spotlight – MediaStorm

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual whose ongoing commitment to photography has created far reaching impact; the Rising Star Award reflects an emerging force the photographic community is watching with great enthusiasm; the Scribe Award recognizes an individual for excellence in writing on the subject of photographic arts and the Spotlight Award is given to an entity that consistently shines a light on photography resulting in an extensive influence in the field.

For more information, visit the Griffin Museum.

Left to right: Crista Dix, Lou Jones, Delphine Sims, Lisa Volpe, Frances Jakubek, Paula Tognarelli, Ed Kashi, Debbie Hagan, Kat Kiernan and Brian Storm

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Remembering Our Veterans: Stories of Service by MediaStorm

MediaStorm is committed to developing in-depth, quality stories on the most important issues of our time, and perhaps none has touched us as deeply as those of our country’s veterans. In the last ten years, we have developed four films on veterans that explore loss, grief, hope, and the possibility of change.

We believe that storytelling replaces anonymity and silence with empathy and information. Stories of veterans and their families give people insight into both what their lives look like outside of their services; and how service has impacted their lives. We hope that our stories help audiences think critically and compassionately about what it means to send our young men and women to war.

We are so grateful to every veteran who has shared his or her story with us and we hope that telling your stories has been healing and helpful in some way.

We celebrate the innovations of returning vets like Jake Clark, the Founder and Executive Director of Save a Warrior. In 2014, in partnership with Soledad O’Brien and the Starfish Media Group, MediaStorm developed a special report for CNN on the rising incidence of suicide and PTSD among our young veterans, and Jake’s valiant efforts to create safe haven and hope for them.


In Homecoming, we celebrate what Starbucks, one of the country’s leading socially responsible corporations, has done to reintegrate veterans to civilian life. The unemployment rate of veterans is nearly double that of civilians–making it very difficult for our soldiers to come back to their civilian lives. In telling the story of one returning veteran, Major Amy Queensbury, Homecoming explores what can be gained when we provide equal opportunity to service men and women.


A portrait of veterans would be incomplete without stories of loss, grief, and trauma. Marlboro Marine, developed in partnership with the Los Angeles Times’ Luis Sanco, goes behind the frame of one of the most iconic photographs of a soldier in war to show the lasting impacts of war on one young man.


The grief of war is felt acutely among the families who are left behind, both in battle and and at home. One of our first films, Never Coming Home, examines the impacts of that loss on one family New York City.


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MediaStorm Premieres 7 Films for the Wall St. Journal’s Fifth Annual Innovators Award at the Museum of Modern Art


MediaStorm produced seven films for the Wall St. Journal Magazine for its fifth annual Innovator Awards at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on November 4th. Seven trailblazing talents were honored for their groundbreaking accomplishments in their respective disciplines. We were thrilled to premiere our seven films on the honorees at this prestigious event.

Selected by WSJ. Magazine editors, the honorees were: Richard Serra (Art); Mark Parker (Brand); Thomas Heatherwick (Design); Angelina Jolie Pitt (Entertainment/Film); Miuccia Prada (Fashion); Karl Ove Knausgaard (Literature); and Stewart Butterfield (Technology). Each winner was presented with an award designed by the 2011 Design winner Joris Laarman.

The films provide a visual narrative on each of the awardees. They also serve both as record and testimony to the innovator’s work, and at the actual event, were used to introduce each awardee.

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