StoryNEXT conference features virtual reality

Immersive storytelling takes center stage at first-ever annual event featuring innovators from across the virtual reality landscape, including, HTC, Google, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Framestore


NEW YORK — Gannett and NYTVF today announced plans for the StoryNEXT Conference, a full day dedicated to new frontiers and the future of storytelling in the emerging virtual reality space.

Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the event will include a line-up of panels and keynote conversations tackling production, creative decision-making, advertising, and emerging trends in narrative, non-fiction, and journalistic storytelling across the rapidly-evolving 360-degree landscape, as well as a virtual reality experience exhibition featuring hardware demonstrations from Google and HTC, among others.

The StoryNEXT Conference will take place on Friday, October 23, as part of the 2015 New York Television Festival.

Two keynote presentations will bookend the conference covering a wide array of virtual reality challenges and opportunities. Wayne Billheimer, Executive Producer for ILMxLAB will headline one presentation while Samsung’s Matt Apfel sits with Sir William Sargent, CEO and Co-Founder of Framestore, for the other. Additional panel topics throughout the day will include:

  • A Production Primer for Virtual Reality Content
  • The Storyteller’s Next Frontier: Content, Coverage and Creative Decision-Making in Virtual Reality
  • Aligning Advertising with Virtual Reality Storytelling

A wide range of experts and thought-leaders will participate in the discussions, including RB Brenner (Director, School of Journalism, University of Texas), Conal Byrne (VP Digital Media, Discovery Communications), Christine Cattano (Executive Producer, VR, Framestore), Niko Chauls (Director Applied Technology, Gannett Co.), Phil Chen (Chief Content Officer for Vive, HTC),Ian Cleary (Vice President, Ideation and Innovation, Relevent), Nonny de la Pena (CEO and Founder, Emblematic Group), Emilio Garcia-Ruiz (Managing Editor, The Washington Post), Gian LaVecchia (Managing Partner, Digital Content Marketing, MEC), Aaron Luber (Head of Partnerships, Google Cardboard), Layla Mah (Lead Architect – VR & Advanced Rendering at AMD, Creator of LiquidVR), Steve Schklair (CEO, 3ality Technica), Molly Swenson (COO, RYOT), Greg Wilkes (CEO, Visisonics), Mike Woods (Founder, White Rabbit VR), and Jessica Yu (Deputy Managing Editor, The Wall Street Journal) with additional panelists to be announced in the coming weeks. The event will include a Knight Foundation “Best Practices Roundtable” at which journalists and industry leaders will discuss their groundbreaking work and its potential to grow.

“For the past year, Gannett has been pushing the boundaries of Virtual Reality as a reporting tool and story-telling device for journalists,” said Mitch Gelman, VP of Product at Gannett. “Not only is this an exciting advancement for our newsrooms, but for our industry overall. Virtual reality is opening up a whole new world of possibility for new revenue streams and new ways to reach consumers. We’re excited to collaborate with Knight Foundation and NYTVF to bring together the best minds in the business to help drive these opportunities forward.”

The first-year, invitation-only event is supported by an Advisory Board that includes dynamic leadership from all corners of the creative commerce spectrum: Nick Hooker (Creative Director, Content, Framestore), Phil Chen (Chief Content Officer for Vive, HTC), Gian LaVecchia (Managing Partner, Digital Content Marketing, MEC), Aaron Luber (Head of Partnerships, Google Cardboard), Dan Pacheco (Professor of Journalism, Syracuse University), and Jennifer Preston (Knight Foundation Vice President for Journalism), in addition to planners Niko Chauls (Director Applied Technology, Gannett Digital), and Terence Gray (Founder, NYTVF).

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Gannett and Knight Foundation on this unique event, bringing together a diverse line-up of experts, thought-leaders, and creative technology powerhouses to explore the future of storytelling in virtual reality,” said NYTVF Founder Terence Gray. “Virtual reality is becoming more and more accessible to everyday consumers, and as we’ve seen across the digital content landscape, this accessibility will yield stories and experiences that we haven’t yet imagined. It’s an exciting time to be a content creator and StoryNEXT promises hands-on access to the latest technology, debuts of new 360° content, and lively discussions about what’s next.”

“As part of our support for the digital transformation of journalism, we need to explore new ways to present stories and engage with users,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation Vice President for Journalism. “Virtual reality presents a tremendous opportunity to do just that. Through StoryNEXT we hope to explore new ways to inform communities with this emerging technology.”

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Gannett Co., Inc. GCI, +3.68% is a new kind of media company committed to strengthening communities across the nation. Through trusted, compelling content and unmatched local-to-national reach, the company touches the lives of nearly 100 million people monthly. With more than 100 markets internationally, it is known for Pulitzer Prize-winning newsrooms, powerhouse brands such as USA TODAY and specialized media properties. To connect with us, visit


Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more visit,


Established in 2005, the NYTVF constructs new and innovative paths of development and talent identification, while simultaneously complementing the traditional television development model. By partnering directly with networks, studios, production companies, digital platforms and brands, the NYTVF provides its Industry Partners with a streamlined development model, leveraging its vast creative community of over 15,000 independent producers and production companies, to create content with specific partners in mind. During the annual New York Television Festival – held each fall in New York City – the NYTVF brings together its top artists and industry decision-makers for a series of events designed to foster networking, collaboration and education. The Festival also marks the culmination of the organization’s yearly development efforts and features screenings of top independent content, educational panels, fan events, red carpet premieres, and more. For more information on the NYTVF, the annual Festival and these competitions, visit