MediaStorm founder speaks to WKU students about multimedia, networking

Melissa Hardesty

“Don’t be an asshole.”

Brian Storm, founder of MediaStorm, found a way to relate to WKU students during his presentation in Mass Media and Technology Hall Auditorium on Thursday afternoon with those words.

“It’s a very small industry. It’s a relationship industry,” Storm said. “Chances are, you’ll either hire or be hired by someone in this room.”

Storm illustrated his point when he said he got his first client project at MediaStorm from, where he first director of multimedia.

Storm illustrated his point when he said he got his first client project at MediaStorm from where he was the first director of multimedia a few years before starting MediaStorm.

Storm opened his presentation by stressing the importance of “full reporting all the way through.”

“Driftless: Stories from Iowa” a multimedia piece by Danny Wilcox Frazier was the first piece he showed during the presentation. Frazier began “Driftless” as a still photography story only. When Frazier brought the idea to MediaStorm, Storm refused to publish it until Frazier got interviews from the subjects of the piece.

“When you produce a book of photos, you’re producing a work of art,” Storm said. “When you combine pictures with video and music, that’s story telling. You have to ask yourself what you want to do.

“Do you want to create an art piece or reach an audience?”

“Intended Consequences,” a piece by MediaStorm journalist Jonathan Torgovnik, showed students the truth side of journalism. The piece focused on a group of Tutsi women who were rape victims during the Rwanda genocide in 1994. The women all had children as a result of the rapes, and Torgovnik asked them a simple question, “Do you love this child?”

The piece brought tears to the eyes of many in the auditorium.

“The role of journalists is to cover the stories we need to see, not necessarily the ones we want to see,” Storm said of “Intended Consequences.”

Contributors published on MediaStorm get 50 percent of the profits made from sales.

Storm also spoke about the importance of the Internet and social media in distributing multimedia pieces. MediaStorm uses of Facebook, Google, Twitter and the “blogosphere” to deliver content to viewers.

Online users have the ability to embed links to pieces directly to their blog. Storm said he views this excitement about projects as a sign that people care about the topics covered by MediaStorm journalists.

“When I worked for MSNBC, I would pitch stories like this all the time,” Storm said. “My bosses said people in the 18-34 age group didn’t care about issues.

“When you tell me people don’t care, I tell you you’re wrong. We’ve got to do these stories, guys.”

Storm, who began MediaStorm in 1994, worked for MSNBC as the first multimedia director of until 2002, when he took a job with Corbis, another digital media agency founded and operated by Bill Gates. Storm’s position was eliminated in 2004, which gave him the opportunity to focus on MediaStorm in early 2005.

“Before, journalism created awareness, but that’s not enough. I want people to do something. [These pieces] are calls to action.”

Data from MediaStorm shows that Internet users from 170 different countries view the website every month. This is the wide-reaching audience Storm wants for the pieces.

MediaStorm’s business model isn’t a secret, Storm said. The key is to rely on multiple people, because your contact person in a company might not always be there.

Hodgenville freshman Shelby Rogers said she enjoyed Storm’s presentation.

“I loved when he said, ‘What does your generation do now? You tweet this shit!’ Everything he talked about was so relevant to where the industry is headed. I’m not even in photojournalism, and I got things out of it.”

To find out more about MediaStorm and the pieces it produces, visit the website at