Mark Jeevaratnam ’10 may be one of the best reporters on YouTube. After making it through two rounds of judging by online viewers, the recent graduate became one of five grand-prize winners in the YouTube Project: Report contest and the recipient of a $10,000 Pulitzer Center travel grant. The contest aimed to inspire non-professional, aspiring journalists to tell stories that would otherwise remain untold.
A self-described “econ major who likes to make films,” Jeevaratnam found his passion for film last summer when he made a documentary about labor migration and remittances in his mother’s native Philippines. “I never thought that I would fall in love with video reporting like I did,” he said. “You just have the camera on at the right time in the right place, and you capture some real magic.”
Jeevaratnam’s story of Davidson’s Vail Commons employee Sharon Hill, Sharon: The Smile of Commons, received enough votes from YouTube viewers to advance him to the semifinals. His second film, For Higher Ground, explores a community drama group’s fight against prescription drug addiction and mountaintop removal in Harlan County, Ky.
His five-minute film has been viewed more than 100,000 times. He plans to use his Pulitzer Center grant to make a film about ethnic conf lict in Sri Lanka, his father’s home country.