2023 Speakers

Chris BallJeremy GilbertRobert Hernandez
Julia MunslowDan PachecoRyan Restivo
Ray SotoSubramaniam VincentZach Wade
Click a name above to jump to any speaker on the page.

Alphabetized by last name.


Assistant Professor of Journalism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Mobile Devices May Once Again Change News Content”

Extended reality (XR) technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), could dramatically alter how we interact and engage with the digital world. In this talk, I will present longitudinal research examining users’ perceptions and acceptance of VR technology over the past three years, which points to future possibilities.

Dr. Christopher Ball is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism. Before joining the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he was a research assistant and instructor while working on his PhD at Michigan State University. During this time, he worked extensively on various grant funded research projects and he taught a number of cutting-edge courses. In addition to his PhD, he also obtained graduate certifications in both Educational Technology as well as Serious Game Design and Research. Before beginning his doctoral studies, he was employed as a research associate at Clemson University where he designed and tested educational virtual world programs.


Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy, Medill, Northwestern University

“Today’s GenZ News Consumer Give Us a Map to 2030”



The next generation of global news consumers displays a handful of critical behaviors that help us anticipate a global news shift toward a more personalized, customized future dependent on personal devices and relationships. A series of ethnographic interviews across three countries reveal critical patterns and identify significant opportunity gaps for news creators to pursue. 

Jeremy Gilbert is the Knight Professor in Digital Media Strategy. Both his work and teaching focus on the content and revenue strategies of existing and emerging media companies. He oversees the Knight Lab and explores the intersection of technology and media, examining how new tools and techniques will affect the creation, consumption and distribution of media. Prior to assuming the Knight Chair, Gilbert was The Washington Post’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and developing a digital strategy for National Geographic.


Professor of Professional Practice, University of Southern California Annenberg

“Democratizing Immersive Storytelling or Hijacking the Dancing Hot Dog for Journalism”


Learn about University of Southern California students’ JOVRNALISM projects that focus on community collaborations with the unhoused, youth in foster care, survivors of domestic abuse and more. We use AR, VR, Photogrammetry, Drones and more to produce award-winning journalism pieces. 

Robert Hernandez, aka WebJournalist, has made a name for himself as a journalist of the Web, not just on the Web. His primary focus is exploring and developing the intersection of technology and journalism – to empower people, inform reporting and storytelling, engage community, improve distribution and, whenever possible, enhance revenue.

He is a Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg, but he’s not an academic… he’s more of a “hackademic.” He and his students produce XR experiences under their brand: JOVRNALISM™. Their work has won awards from The Webby Awards, The Shorty Awards, the Online News Association, Society of Professional Journalists, among others, and can be seen in Al Jazeera, The New York Times, NBC, NPR, ProPublica, USA Today and across other platforms.


Senior Platform Editor, Wall Street Journal

“Influencer or Reporter? How Journalists Can Build Trust Through TikTok”


Audiences pay more attention to influencers than journalists when it comes to news on TikTok, according to the 2023 Reuter Digital News Report. So how can journalists learn to compete and build relationships with new audiences on short-form video platforms? This talk will examine how publishers—and influencers—are reaching a young, diverse audience that loves news on TikTok — and how this all plays in light of the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

Julia Munslow is a senior platform editor on the visual storytelling team at the Wall Street Journal, which creates and produces news experiences across vertical, visual-first channels like Instagram, Google, Snapchat and more.

She previously worked as a special projects editor at Yahoo News, where she focused on Gen Z content strategy and audience development. Prior to that, Julia completed a Fulbright grant in Malaysia, where she taught English. She grew up in Rhode Island and is an Emory University graduate.


Horvitz Chair in Journalism Innovation
Syracuse University

“Mobile-Friendly Digital Dioramas”



Learn how to use simple HTML code templates to publish digital story-worlds that are similar to the dioramas you made as a kid – but with a simple mobile web link. No construction paper or a shoe box required!

Dan Pacheco holds the Peter A. Horvitz Chair of Journalism Innovation at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and is a pioneer in the use of virtual reality for journalism. In 2014 he started and co-produced The Des Moines Register’s Harvest of Change VR project for the Oculus Rift, the world’s first large-scale use of virtual reality by a commercial news organization. Harvest of Change earned an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2015 for its innovative use of 360-degree video for virtual reality. His most recent project is Visualizing 81, a Journalism 360 funded project that uses 360, photogrammetry and 3D architectural renderings to tell the story of an aging interstate overpass that may be replaced with a community grid designed to heal racial and economic divisions in Syracuse.

Previously, Pacheco spent 20 years in the trenches of digital publishing everywhere from Fortune 500 companies to startups. He started his career as an online producer for Washingtonpost.com, where he produced Interact, one of the first online news communities. Subsequently, as a principal product manager at America Online, he oversaw some of the internet’s first truly global community products. In 2005, after pioneering the first implementation of a social networking platform at a U.S. newspaper, he received an NAA “20 Under 40” award. And in 2007, he received a Knight News Challenge grant to build a democratized publishing service that evolved into an eBook platform.

Pacheco recently published a book titled “Experimenting With Emerging Media Platforms: Field Testing the Future” this past June.



“Elevate Your Stories with YESEO”

Ryan Restivo will present his Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellowship project YESEO, the app for Slack that helps newsrooms with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices. He will describe what he learned in creating it and how insights from newsrooms helped influence the user experience.

Ryan Restivo is a Project Manager for Mobile Apps at Newsday Media Group, where he led a project for a redesigned Newsday, which launched in October of 2019. He also collaborated with marketing to redesign store presence with new images and video on Apple and Google Play stores. Before that he was Editorial Development Coordinator at Newsday, leading projects such as the launch of free/metered tiers of users into the Newsday iOS/Android app. He is also a Contributing Editor for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the college basketball industry’s most in-depth preview.


Co-founder/Studio Art Director,
Loric Games

“Beyond Gaming: AI’s Personalization Potential”



AI’s accessibility and expanded integration into products has elevated consumer expectations for personalization across all forms of media. Ray Soto will share insights into how Loric Games is harnessing AI to craft a personalized story experience for their players and discuss the potential for this innovative approach beyond gaming.

Ray Soto is an award-winning technologist and co-founder/Studio Art Director at Loric Games. Previously, he was the senior director of emerging technology at USA TODAY and associate art director at Mythic Entertainment.

With over 20 years of experience leading the development of interactive stories in journalism and video games, Ray’s work has been recognized with over 20 awards including the Pulitzer Prize for the multimedia report “The Wall.” His work in XR was recognized when Gannett was named one of Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” in VR/AR in 2019. Ray was also named one of The Drum’s Top 100 Marketers in the World for 2019.

Prior to Ray’s work at Gannett, he served as an Associate Art Director and Outsource Manager at Electronic Arts where he was responsible for leading a cross-disciplinary team of artists, designers, and animators.


Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University

“Mobile News Apps: Similarities, Differentiators, Ethics”


How many news aggregator apps are there on the market? Which ones do you use? How does one compare them to find commonalities and differences? This talk will use news distribution ethics, journalism ethics, and consumer behavior lenses to walk you through a comparison. 

Subramaniam Vincent directs Journalism and Media Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. He is currently convener of the News Distribution Ethics Roundtable and also leads the Source Diversity Audit Technology project. He has contributed to several consultations and papers on the challenges to democracy arising due to digital media. He writes and synthesizes research on the subject of advancing pro-democracy norms in the news media, and is the author of several book chapters and journal articles.

Vincent was a John S Knight Journalism fellow, Stanford University in 2015-2016. He co-founded and led two award-winning news magazines in Bangalore, India, and pioneered a hybrid citizen-professional reporting model. Vincent is originally a software engineer. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and daughter.


Senior Producer, CNN

“The Power of Performance Feedback”

Digital audiences are changing faster than ever. Increasing your content’s reach and engagement with new readers requires sharpening your understanding of what stories and framing will resonate. 

Join Zach Wade, Senior Producer for Editorial Product and Performance at CNN, to learn how to invest in actionable feedback to ensure stories serve changing audiences. Zach contributes extensive knowledge of audience and user behavior to guide development of CNN’s machine learning, personalization, video, and real-time storytelling capabilities.