Kainaz Amaria and Meghan Louttit share their work, stories

By Deena Benkey

This year’s Schuneman Symposium theme was “Excellence: Why it (still) matters” and focused on Photojournalism and New Media. Ohio University was fortunate enough to bring six talented individuals to the university to present to students. Two multimedia producers, Kainaz Amaria and Meghan Louttit, presented together as the last event of the day.  Their presentation was “ Grasping for Excellence on the Front Line” at the Baker Center Theater. They were later joined by Lustgarten, Jenkins, and du Cille for a round table discussion.

Kainaz Amaria

Kainaz Amaria is a multimedia producer and trainer at NPR. Before joining the staff of NPR, she was a freelance photojournalist in Mumbai, India. Meghan Louttit works at The New York Times as a multimedia producer, as well as the web producer for the investigations desk. The start of the presentation began with Visiting Professor Andy Alexander giving a brief introduction about Amaria and Louttit and noting them as “rising stars in digital media.”

Amaria presented first and thanked Ohio University for having her by saying she was “honored, humbled and it’s dope to be here today.” Amaria studied international relations and political science at Boston University and notes she had “no clue what she wanted to do after graduation.” She found herself, as she describes, “young, broke, and curious” and adventured her way to London with five hundred dollars and a few friends. She stayed in London for two years until she moved back to California and told her parents her aspirations of becoming a photojournalist.

At the start of her career, Amaria worked at a few small local newspapers. She enjoyed her work and called herself a “visual storyteller.”  She expressed that she had learned so much about different cultures and communities in that period of time and that she finds people inextricably interesting and amazing. Amaria stated that she loved telling other people’s stories while working with the small newspapers, but knew very little of her own story and  culture.

She then began to tell her story to all of us. Amaria had moved from Bombay, India when she was three years old to begin what her family viewed as their “American Dream.” She was born into the Zoroastrian faith, and was known as a “Parse.” Her religion as she described was based on “good thoughts, good words and good deeds.” This move from India to America gave Amaria a heightened awareness of her past and she became interested in her religion and culture.

Amaria wanted set out to document the present form of what her community is today, only accounting for 69,000 people in India and 25,000 people throughout the rest of the world. “India tested my self of purpose, my values, and core,” Amaria stated during her presentation and credited it with making her a better person and stronger journalist. After spending time in India, Amaria joined NPR where she works with the multimedia team. Since joining NPR, she credits the company with helping her to increase her collective visual voice. She finished her presentation by sharing that her job is all about “the story, the journalism, the story telling, the love” and to always “smile harder.”

Meghan Louttit

Meghan Louttit presented after Amaria and was the final presentation in this year’s Schuneman Symposium. She currently works for The New York Times as a multimedia producer and web producer for the investigations desk. Louttit expressed that she is still “in awe of working at The New York Times and of the people around me.”

Previously, Louttit has worked as a community reporter for The Washington Post. She is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and touched upon how  Speakeasy Magazine made its debut during her time here and was the start of many things for her. Louttit expressed that she had always known what she wanted to do with her life since the age of three. She states, “I always wanted to tell stories, be the observer and then tell what I see.”

Much of Louttit’s presentation focused on a skill that she learned and currently uses in the industry: coding. She said that she uses coding as an everyday part of her job and that it is a valuable technique to capture and retain for the future. The audience was also shown a projects that Louttit worked on at The New York Times like “Touch of Evil” and “Snow Fall.”

Louttit ended her presentation by sharing that her job mostly consisted of custom templates, codes and lots of manual time, things that many journalists should become accustomed to. She finished with the following advice: “Don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to innovate because you think it will kill journalism. Journalism is not going die because we will not stop telling stories.”