CoJMC alumnus makes history with BuzzFeed

CoJMC alumnus makes history with BuzzFeed

Sunday, July 19, 2015 - 7:00pm
Ben Kreimer
Ben Kreimer

Ben Kreimer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications alumnus, is making history as the beta fellow at BuzzFeed’s Open Lab For Journalism, Technology and the Arts.

This open source lab is the first of its kind, Kreimer said. BuzzFeed is opening the lab along with its new San Francisco bureau. Each year the lab will select four fellows to work on both software and hardware projects, along with one senior fellow every two years. Currently, Kreimer is the only fellow to be selected, and Buzzfeed is still accepting proposals.

As a beta fellow, his job is very much like beta testing for new software. He’s not exactly sure what he will be doing but plans to continue work on his drone journalism and open source sensor hardware projects.

But right now he’s focusing on getting the lab up and running.

“We’re figuring it out as we go,” Kreimer said. “I’m the first fellow so I’ve been charged with equipping the lab and helping San Francisco bureau chief, Mat Honan, figure out how it will work.”

Kreimer became interested in drone journalism as a student at the CoJMC. His work with professor Matt Waite in the Drone Journalism Lab inspired him to use drones to tell a story. BuzzFeed took notice of the drone journalism work Kreimer has been doing worldwide and reached out to him about being a part of the lab.

“The first time BuzzFeed came to me and said we like what you do and want you to do it with us, that’s a dream opportunity,” he said. “It’s great to be in this position, where I get to do what I do for a media company that’s excited about the possibilities.”

Kreimer plans to continue his work in drone journalism, along with open source sensor hardware at the lab. His expertise is currently using drones to capture photos and video of real sites and recreating them in a three-dimensional video-game-like environment. He said there has been a lot of interest in using this because it’s a way to capture a space and a location in a way that can’t be done in two dimensions.

One of the open source sensor projects Kreimer said he hopes to work on is portable air pollution sensors that could be attached to motorcycle helmets. He got the idea when he was working in poor air quality in India. He said the people there aren’t aware of the issue or doing anything to combat it. These motorcycle helmet sensors could create awareness, as well as gather data from all over the country – something that is currently missing.

At the moment, Kreimer is sitting in an empty lab in San Francisco ordering equipment and anticipating all the possibilities this lab could offer, an exciting but nerve-wracking thought he says.

“It’s really exciting and nerve wracking at the same time,” he said. “This is a really unique project that BuzzFeed is taking on – as far I know no other media organization has something like this. It’s exciting because we’re making it all up as we go, but it’s nerve wracking because we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.”