Ryan Wichelns plans to change the way longform journalism is delivered to the masses, an ambition matched in scale only by the mountains he has summited. He always knew he wanted to become a journalist, but it was his life-changing decision to join the staff of the University’s student newspaper, The Good 5-Cent Cigar, that helped formulate his desire to not just join the industry, but to redefine it.
After rejuvenating the Cigar by redesigning its website, Ryan began tackling his own projects, including freelance articles for Outside Magazine and Backpacker Magazine. In these projects he saw an opportunity to innovate and transform the delivery of compelling stories.
“It’s more difficult today to have as much success doing the same old traditional journalism,” he said. “Writing is my favorite part of journalism, but combining the writing with multimedia on the web is such a cool way to tell stories, and it’s not really being done on a wide scale yet. That’s the direction I’d like to take my career.”
Of course, to tell a compelling story in journalism, one must first find it or experience it. Ryan opted for the latter when he and a couple of friends decided to become the first climbers to make the Brooks-Silverthrone Traverse, a journey across five peaks higher than 11,000 feet in Denali National Park, Alaska. This was after he had already hiked all 46 peaks higher than 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks.
Ryan turned the Alaska trek into a senior project with the intention of documenting the journey through a field journal, photography, video, maps, graphs and animation, which he later culled into a longform multimedia piece for his website, AdirondackSherpa.net. The piece now serves as the foundation for his future ambitions.