Interactive Media students place in national online journalism competition

A project created by nine students from Elon’s Interactive Media master’s program won third place for team journalism in the Association for Education in Journalism’s national Best of the Web competition.

The award was announced at the August AEJMC conference in Chicago.

The team created their website, titled “Boruca: Behind the Mask,” to provide information about the indigenous Boruca tribe in South-Pacific Costa Rica. The project was the outcome of their Winter Fly-In, a portion of the graduate program during which students travel to another country and produce an interactive media project for the public good.

This January, students were divided into groups and traveled to Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico or Iceland after preparing for the projects during the second half of fall semester.

“It’s really kind of impressive we placed in the competition, because if you look at other projects that tend to do well, they have a lot more people much more time to work,” said Amanda Sturgill, associate professor of communications and the Boruca team’s project mentor.

Though team members each had specific roles overseeing areas such as the website’s design, photography, video and information architecture, Sturgill said a tight deadline required everyone to work on multiple areas of the project.

Brittany Ison, a 2012 graduate of the program and member of the Boruca team, said designing an entire website — something she had never done before — was even more challenging when the team only had a few days to create it.

“It was an unbelievable learning experience in what can be accomplished in such a short amount of time when people work together,” Ison said.

The purpose of the group’s website was to allow others to better understand the approximately 2,000-member Boruca tribe located on Costa Rican reservation land with little access to the rest of the world through the Web.

“The most important criteria for our group was making sure that our website represented the true Boruca,” Ison said. “We wanted a visitor to our site to understand and be able to get a sense of Boruca. Capturing vivid and texture-filled photographs was a major focus when we were actually there.”

Sturgill said since the project’s completion, the website has also served as a tool to help others get in touch with the Boruca tribe.

By Natalie Allison ‘13