USC Annenberg launches Stroome: a collaborative, online video editing community

To watch and see how Stroome works, visit the Stroome blog at

By Gretchen Parker

USC Annenberg continues to break new ground in the evolution of digital media and journalism, as school leaders announce this week the launch of Stroome, a comprehensive and collaborative online video editing platform. 

On Wednesday, April 21, co-founders Nonny de La Peña and Tom Grasty will join School of Journalism director Geneva Overholser and other faculty members at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism to introduce the project. De La Peña and Grasty conceived and developed Stroome as graduate students at the school. USC will be the first university to license the product; it will be deployed school-wide across Annenberg for use in classrooms, at Annenberg TV News and on Neon Tommy, Annenberg’s digital news site.

The demonstration and discussion will be held at 5 p.m. in Annenberg Room 207.

Grasty and de la Peña designed Stroome ( as a Web-based application that anyone can use to post, cooperatively edit, share and remix video. It’s also a social networking site, allowing users to exchange comments, build communities and find new collaborators.

The concept opens a wide range of possibilities for journalists, filmmakers, musicians – and anyone else with a camera and a computer.

 “I can see a blogger using this – or a start up news operation. Or a legacy newsroom with budget cuts that can’t afford high-end video editing software,” Grasty said. “It’s going to let people produce stories faster and less expensively, and it’s collaborative. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the same state or even in the same country.”

Stroome already has been lauded by the Online News Association as “a paradigm for digital storytelling and visual journalism.” The project won the Audience Award as the best new startup at the association’s conference last year.

Although its potential goes beyond a foundation as a content-producing site, the project was born to fill journalists’ needs, de la Peña said.

“Part of why I did this was I could see some of the struggles that journalists are going through. I wanted to provide a way to turn that around, and Stroome is a way for journalists to do what they do best – which is go cover a great story and get it out there fast and in a collaborative way,” de la Peña said. “This allows journalists to take advantage of social networking and to turn around and publish relevant and robust content quickly.”

The potential for Stroome’s practical applications is endless.

“It goes beyond YouTube, where you just upload. You build and remix on the Web site. It’s a great step toward creation and production on the Web,” said assistant Journalism professor Robert Hernandez, who offered input during Stroome’s development and is experimenting with using it in his Web journalism classes.

“I can see a situation where there’s a protest and five reporters are shooting different pieces of video and using different equipment to upload it to Stroome, and someone in the newsroom edits one piece together. You can even go so far as saying, ‘Dear citizen, upload your clips here, and we can work it into our content,’” Hernandez said. “It has really strong potential.”

Stroome was born as a project Grasty and de la Peña built for the Annenberg Program for Online Communities, a graduate program in new media, Internet marketing and online social networking. Over the last year, the two continued to develop and market the project.

Overholser endorsed Stroome early in its development and helped facilitate its partnership with Annenberg.

 “It has the potential for being an innovation that practicing journalists could really use,” Overholser said. “It had all the hallmarks for me – it’s innovative, it’s very collaborative in spirit, and it encourages participation. I think it’s just a very Annenberg project.”

Besides its utility for on-the-ground reporters, it’s the social networking aspect that may attract a wider range of users and keep them engaged, said Alvand Abdolsalehi, executive producer of Annenberg TV News.

“It’s very interactive – you can watch different people’s videos, you can ask them if you can remix theirs, and it’s building relationships based on a community of editing,” he said. “Because you have the ability to take other edits and put them into your own, it’s like a constant network of sharing and learning and feeding off of each other’s work to create something you’re all proud of.

“One thing that’s really desirable online right now is networking. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr – all those things are status sharing, photo sharing – and now we’re sharing video, so it takes it one step further. Which is pretty awesome.”

About Nonny de la Peña and Tom Grasty

Nonny De la Peña, a graduate of Harvard, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with 20 years of journalistic experience, including as a former correspondent for Newsweek. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other national publications. Tom Grasty is an entrepreneurial digital and media strategist with a diverse 15-year background across the entertainment, advertising, public relations and Internet industries. He recently was named an “Innovator to Watch” by the Stevens Institute for Innovation.  Grasty is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in Journalism.