I’m Arjun Ram Srivatsa. I am an artist, musician, poet, animator, creative director, video director, video editor, motion designer, graphic designer, sound designer, podcaster, journalist, art critic, fiction essayist, trend forecaster, birdwatcher, socialist, and friend living in Manhattan.
I hold a masters degree from Columbia Univeristy’s Graduate School of Journalism.
I was most recently the Director of Programming and Development for Pitchfork. From 2020 to 2021 I hosted Diversity Hire, a podcast about being “POC” in media.
You can find more examples of my work on Instagram.
I asked New Yorker social media editor Julia Bush if there were any upcoming articles that could be turned into a video. She suggested Alexandra Schwartz’s piece about the Park Slope Food Co-Op, a quirky little store that inhabits a cult-like community of sticklers and gourmands.
Julia spent a couple weeks trying to track down an early draft for us to work with. In her words, the unpublished draft black market is kind of impenetrable. She slacked me one day saying someone told her about a draft appearing on a desk, but when she got there, it was gone. Then, someone sent her a photo of the front page, and we chewed up the opening paragraphs to start our outline. We finally got the draft and reached out to the Co-op.
Inside, the staff welcomed us gleefully, but I could feel the judging eyes from shoppers. Someone made an announcement over the speakers: “Two employees from The New Yorker are here to film our store.” The eyes got judgier. But we were able to talk to some nice, quirky people.
After a couple hours, Julia headed home and I stayed to capture b-roll. As I walked around, a Black employee named Marc caught my attention. “How are you choosing who you speak with?” he asked. I told him I’m speaking with whoever wants to speak with me. He then asked, “Well, have you spoken with anyone who looks like me?” I told him that I was hoping to. He led me to the back and told me about the internalized racism at the Co-op.
The two weeks that followed that day felt like a fever dream. We had mistakenly forgotten to bring release forms with us, so all of a sudden we were, like, “uh…are we gonna get sued?” We tracked down each interviewee on Google, discovering tidbits about their lives. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. After we shared a draft with The New Yorker’s general counsel, he emailed back with a simple 3 word email: No concerns. Thanks.
The video went up. We took a deep breath. People in the comments argued about how rEaL NeW YoRkErS dOn’T ShOp ThErE. A few weeks later we got nominated for a National Magazine Award. We cheersed at the New Yorker holiday party. The New Yorker c. 2019 Director Dir. of Photography Editor AnimatorSocial Media Director: Karen Quinn Social Media Editor: Julia Bush Writer: Alexandra Schwartz