Virtual reality has been the talk of the town for the past couple of years and how its potential uses could be used. Everything from video games to military training to now journalism. The biggest question left to answer is how could virtual reality be used to help propel journalism?
Virtual reality has been around since at least the 1950’s to some extent. Morton Heilig created a prototype called the “Sensorama” which looked like a giant VR headset and projected 3D images and surround sound. In today’s world, we have the Oculus Rift headset which gives users the experience of being right in an alternate world.
Journalism saw a massive dip in the mid-2000’s and as technology changed and mediums changed. Print newspaper was getting left in the dust while online news was becoming the big thing. Now journalists and publication companies are looking for new ways to stay fresh with content and virtual reality is one outlet that could be used to show news in a totally different channel.
Virtual reality gives readers, or in this case, viewers a chance to feel like they are a part of the story. Instead of just reading about what happened, they can see from the perspective of being there. Whether it be flying with the Blue Angels or seeing Cuba firsthand, viewers get to see new perspectives and journalists can now give them that. Just imagine if the technology was around for MLK’s speech in Washington or when troops stormed Normandy. Journalists can record these future moments and give viewers a feel of being there.
The biggest flaw with virtual reality news is that in most cases it is more 360 video than virtual reality. Most consumers don’t own the headset and although you can still view the videos, you just get a flat look of a 360 view and you miss out on the actual VR experience.
Example of 360 view:
Another issue with VR is it is in such high demand that EVERYONE wants to try it and that just leaves a lot of very bad videos that could turn others off of the idea of VR being a good tool for storytelling.
The biggest key for immersive journalism to be successful is to have stories in virtual reality that gives viewers a feel of perspective and a full sense of what it is like to witness events even though they weren’t there for it.
Overall, virtual reality can be a great tool for journalists but it needs to be used in a proper way and not overused.