'1080p', a visual journalism group that seeks to document campus life through short videos and photo essays, is one of Princeton's newest student organizations. Staff Writer Catherine Wang sat down with Nick Sexton '17, one of the organization's co-founders, to discuss the club's background and goals.
Daily Princetonian: What inspired you guys to create '1080p'?
Nick Sexton '17: Our organization goes by “ten-eighty p,” which refers to HD video resolution. We, as an organization, focus on visual journalism – so that’s journalism through the form of video and photo essays. We decided to form as a student group because we know that there’s a lot of organizations on campus that do journalism, like the 'Prince', the Nass and others. But we felt like most of them don’t have a very robust visual journalism section, and so we thought that, given the rise of things like New York Times' video section and other outlets that put an emphasis on visual content, Princeton’s campus needs something similar. So that’s what we’re trying to add to Princeton’s campus: an organization that allows people who may not have prior training with video cameras and photography to use our equipment and partner with people in our organization who already have that experience.
DP: Can you tell me more about some of '1080p'’s videos or photojournalism projects?
NS: We were founded at the start of the fall semester, and had our official launch at the beginning of the spring semester. Throughout the fall semester, we were preparing content for our launch. Now we have about seven or eight videos that are up on the site, and one or two photo essays so far. They’re on a really diverse range of topics. We had a profile of 2 Dickinson Street [Co-op], which is an alternative eating option for upperclassmen on campus. We did a profile of the audition process for dance groups, focusing specifically on BodyHype. We followed them through their pickups, and talked to someone who was previously denied from BodyHype and was subsequently let into the group. We did a profile of WPRB, which is the radio station on campus. We also did a profile on Revival Culture, which is a worship group on campus that meets in Campus Club's basement.
Our goal is to show people parts of Princeton that they might not have a chance to see. We want to provide a lens into different communities that will allow for more mutual understanding on different parts of campus. For example, my co-founder Will [Gansa '17] is helping spearhead a project now that is going to be an oral history and reflection on the Black Justice League (BJL) protests at Nassau Hall and the formation of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition. What he’s doing is to get an objective stance, he’s talking to someone from the University Press Club who covered the event, as well as people from the Princeton Open Campus Coalition and the BJL. He plans to present, as objectively as possible, [...] a retelling of the event. Our inspiration for wanting to make this specific project is that we felt that many people on both sides got a lot of misinformation about what was happening at Nassau Hall.
DP: What challenges have you experienced while working on '1080p'?
NS: Some of the specific challenges of doing video journalism is that video takes longer to produce than say writing a news article for the 'Prince.' So I think that there’s a longer production time, so that is one specific challenge that we recognize, and I think that that’s one of the big reasons why other publications on campus have not been able to sustain their video and photo departments as much as they’d like to. That’s something we’re cognizant of and working against.
DP: What is the overall process for creating content?
NS: The way we’re structured so far is that we have weekly meetings on Monday nights at 8:30 p.m. at Frist. At those weekly meetings, we let people pitch their ideas, and we want it to be as collaborative of a process as possible, so everyone will give their feedback and suggestions for different ideas. If people are particularly interested in a given project, then they’ll tack their name onto it and hopefully assist in the production of it. That’s generally how it’s been so far. We don’t have a rigid set of rules, so it’s not like, “this person will hold the sound, you do the lighting.” The idea is more to create groups of people who are interested in doing the same story who can support each other, because we know that people are coming in with different skill-sets and different interests.
DP: What are your plans for the future of '1080p'?
NS: Like I’ve said before, so far we like to focus on parts of campus that maybe mainstream campus might not understand too well. So for example, we’ve thought about doing a profile on married students on campus, which is something that I think people might be interested in because it’s such a small demographic at Princeton. At the same time, we’re not only interested in creating content that’s very niche that only focuses on a small base of people. We’re also interested in doing things that are related to “mainstream Princeton,” whether it’s the eating clubs or campus-wide events. However, we are not striving to be an organization that covers the daily news. We’re instead striving to be an organization that covers topics that are “evergreen,” so, for example, if you go and watch a video in a year, it will still be interesting to you.
Editor's note: Co-founder Will Gansa '17 was also contacted for interview, but he declined to comment.