The Hotlist: December 2015
A Guide to the Web’s Most Cutting Edge New Media Content

Compiled by Elliot Feldman

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The Hotspot 
The Hotspot highlights Web content created by writers working under a WGA contract. 

Reasons Not to Date a Magician

Reasons Not to Date a Magician is a Web comedy series created by Alexandra Wojciechowska and is based on the real-life experiences of Joseph Tran, a professional magician. There are only six episodes, but they're worth it for the laughs. Note that some of the content is sexually explicit.

East Willy B
East Willy B is a Web series created by Julia Ahumada Grob and Yamin Segal. Its subject matter centers on the patrons of a Latino sports bar in the rapidly gentrifying Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The main characters are bartenders Willy Junior and his pal Ceci Rivera. The series is funny, well written and acted, and expertly produced.

The Kloons
The Kloons are comedy sketch trio consisting of former UC Irvine college roommates Mitch Lewis, Greg Washburn, and Nik Kazoura. It's a popular YouTube channel that consists of stand-alone comedy sketches as well as Sisters, their Web series.


KCRW public radio's Independent Producer Project offers audio storytelling podcasts. Unfictional is a KCRW podcast hosted and produced by Bob Carlson. It specifically offers nonfiction stories that can be enjoyed as audio documentaries. UnFictional also offers stories from other Los Angeles-based contributing writers and performers, most notably storyteller Joe Frank.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
Dan Carlin is a former TV news reporter. His podcast, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is self-described as a "theater of the mind style" discussion that explores specific events in world history. Each world events discussion is spurred by an "out-of-the-box" question such as "Was Alexander the Great as bad as Adolf Hitler?" While discussions of history might sound dull to some, the show never fails to be provocative and/or interesting. New or newer episodes are available for free either by subscription at Carlin's Web site or via the iTunes Store. Special earlier episodes are available for purchase.

Snap Judgment
Snap Judgment is an NPR podcast from contributor Glynn Washington. The show is about "real people telling real stories about crucial life decisions." It is produced by WNYC's Radiolab.

Criminal | a podcast
Criminal is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning podcast hosted by Phoebe Judge. Part of the Radiotopia podcast network, Criminal is a compelling story-driven audio show about "people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle." It was created by Judge, Eric Mennel, and Lauren Spohrer.

the memory palace
the memory palace, a monthly podcast by Nate DiMeo, is also part of the Radiotopia network. It consists of story reenactments of surprising historical events. For example, a typical story takes place in 1910 where a crowd is celebrating the arrival of Halley's Comet (and the possible end of the world) on the roof of New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

You Must Remember This
You Must Remember This is a podcast about Hollywood's secret or forgotten histories that took place in the film industry's first century. This is a "heavily researched work of creative nonfiction" created by, written by, narrated and edited by film historian Karina Longworth. It's sponsored by Panoply, a podcast network that's part of Slate magazine.


After 6/4
6/4/89 was the date when pro-democracy street protests began in China's Tiananmen Square. After 6/4 is a project by film producer Jiao Chen sponsored by SBS, Australia's main public broadcasting network. It marks the 25th anniversary of this historical event. The multimedia project includes interviews with Beijing eyewitnesses as well as commentators outside the mainland including Chinese in Hong Kong as well as ethnic Chinese residing in other countries.

Lost and Found
Lost and Found is a multimedia online project sponsored by NPR's Picture Show. It's explores a recently discovered series of lost works from photographer Charles Cushman. The works consist of over 14,000 color photos from the 1930's. Lost and Found is an audio-driven story produced and reported by Claire O'Neill. The project is subtitled "discovering a black and white era in full color." O'Neill tells Cushman's life story and showcases specific photos from his collection. The complete collection is archived at Indiana University by researchers Rich Remsberg and Eric Sandweiss. Wesley Lindamood is the Web site's multimedia designer and developer.


Disappearing Rio Grande
The Disappearing Rio Grande is an interactive media project sponsored by The Texas Tribune and created by reporter Colin McDonald and environmental journalist Erich Schlegel. It's an online journey along the length of the Rio Grande River, via a virtual simulation of foot and boat travel. Project team members responsible for the multimedia elements include photojournalists Jessica Lutz and Mike Kane. The project's purpose is to illustrate the damage effects of haphazard irrigation methods on the Rio Grande and on its population of over five million. The project also allows readers, particularly neighboring River residents, to submit their own stories of life along the Rio Grande.

Losing Ground
Losing Ground is an interactive documentary project that shows the effects of erosion on the Louisiana coastline caused by Hurricane Katrina and other contributing factors. The project is sponsored by Columbia University School of Journalism's Tow Center and ProPublica, a New York-based "independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest." The project uses satellite images and sensor technologies to illustrate a narrative timeline that shows soil erosion from 1922 to 2014. The creative team includes reporter Brian Jacobs and the staff of The Lens, a New Orleans-based news entity, as well as ProPublica staffers Scott Klein and multimedia developer Al Shaw.

The Great Frack Forward
The Great Frack Forward is an interactive longform feature from Mother Jones magazine. It documents how current fracking projects in China have impacted their society and environment. The interactive design is courtesy of Web producer Jaeah Lee and video production is by James West, senior producer at The Climate Desk. The story is told in nine chapters and five videos.


Farewell Comrades! Interactive
In 2011, Farewell Comrades! launched as a six-episode European television media event; then went cross-media online and in print. It served to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The online companion to the television series, Farewell Comrades! Interactive is an interactive journey that offers eyewitness audio stories from the Eastern Bloc. Stories are presented by an interface that's a series of clickable interactive postcards that were written by real people within the last 15 years of the USSR.

Parable of the Polygons
Video artist Vi Hart and multimedia developer Nicky Case created Parable of the Polygons, an online social experiment in the guise of a game where players arrange groups of triangles and squares into a configuration of neighboring shapes. While on the surface Parable of the Polygons is a simple game, digging under the surface reveals a an experiment in social segregation. The creators call the project "a playable post in the shape of society."


The Ben Franklin Project
The Journal-Register, a major newspaper chain, created The Ben Franklin Project as an entry point into the future of journalism. Its motto is "Digital First and Print Last." While most news chains use expensive content development tools and platforms, The Ben Franklin Project is an open source citizen journalist-friendly project that uses a selection of free content development tools online. It currently serves as a local news content management network for Journal-Register reporters across the nation. The Project also provides an open news content platform where readers can suggest news stories and even submit their own news content for approval.

The WGAW encourages New Media projects to respect content creators through Guild contracts. If you’re working in New Media and would like information on getting your project covered, contact Shelagh Wagener or call (323) 782-4511.

Elliot Feldman's novel, Sitting Shiva, was published in 2003 -- ISBN: 0964374064. And check out his comics at Scene4 Magazine - WARNING: Not for the easily offended.