Virtual Journalism: Friend, Foe, or Fad?

Posted: February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized
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The evolution of a Journalist is an ever-changing world. They used to collect information, write, report, and on to the next story. Then technology happened, and Journalists were expected to cover a lot more ground, whether that be a required Twitter account, and a quota of how much multimedia content they produce. Movement has been made since in the last few years, and needless to say, writers aren’t just camped out at their desks anymore, and won’t be any time soon. A new trend is spawning with the technological advances with drone work, 3D design, and now virtual reality.
Many people are hands on learners, who use visual stimulation to soak in the information needed to understand a task. Now news is looking to apply this strategy to Journalism. With the reminisce of what sounds like a GoPro on test subjects, now artists like Chris Milk and Spike Jonze are wearing 360 cameras, getting into the action, and recording what they see around them. Using this tactic while reporting, the output could be a 3D/Virtual Reality quality the viewer is able to soak in while being completely immersed in the surroundings VIA headgear and headphones.


Screenshot of a photograph by Spike Jonze used in “Virtual reality documentaries ‘take the middle man out of journalism'” from The

Milk, one of the Vice News VR partnered artists had a striking thing to say to The Guardian about how virtual reality reporting could be the new frontier. “’So much of journalism is conveying a place and time that existed, to someone at a later date: giving a person the context and trying to make them feel as informed as if they were actually there,’ he says. ‘Fundamentally, this is taking out the middle man in that process, and making you feel as if you were actually there.’” digs deeper into how this would work for viewers. “The viewer would then wear virtual reality goggles that track their position in the room and translate their movements into the scene in front of their eyes. In a documentary about Syria, for instance, (Nonny) de la Pena placed viewers in a street as a bomb exploded so that they could witness the terror unfolding – before then taking them for a walk around a refugee site.” Using more intense tactics such as this would cause the viewer to feel more than just watching nightly news program. Nonny de la Pena, senior research fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, a creator of a program that combines and reconstructs scenes from traumatic events says “”It’s really a kind of a whole-body experience and is very unique – different than radio, than television, than any other kind of format for experiencing a story.””

The question is, will something like virtual reality take the place of standard journalism? According to MyFoxNY’s article by Robert Moses, there has already been speculation that it will hurt the journalism industry. Frank Rich, who has been a journalist at multiple publications like the New York Post, New York Times, and New York Magazine tells Moses that will not occur. He believes that as the way journalism changes, individuals will continue to want to know and see more.
Time will tell whether virtual reality will come to the forefront of journalism, or if it’s just another fad to fade away with good free coffee and holograms of dead musicians doing farewell tours.

  1. Zoe Chisengalumbwe says:

    This is not entirely progress for out society. In one sense it will allow the viewer to teleport without any danger involved, but from a evolutionary prospective, this possesses the power to eliminate humanity from reporting. We could reach a state where someone would only need to spin a holographic globe on their IPad, and touch the screen to see what a drone was picking up in that area.

    Which on a subliminal level, removes the notion of the audience being fed sources of information via approval, as timely adjustment to this sort of reporting could create a culture in which people would feel justified in their stalker like behaviours, even more so than they unfortunately feel now.

    “So much of journalism is conveying a place and time that existed, to someone at a later date”, why does that need to change? We don’t stop seeing plays because cameras exist, some do. But not all of us. I really wonder how this direction would end up, or if it would be successful at all.

    Very interesting piece, by the way, I found it very thought provoking.


    • Very true, Zoe!
      It concerns me to a degree because going into it, it’s taking out the middle man. It’s taking out us helping people understand what’s going on. Sure, it means there will be no biased information being fed into our heads, but at the same time, it’s a passionate field and for it to evaporate would be a sad thing indeed. It might be great for a journalist to actually see the footage first hand and create their story from it – but it doesn’t seem like tech that’s open to the general public either. Only time will tell.

      Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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