Reading the news is moving past papers or watching people talk on TV about active issues in the world, instead it is starting to bring you to the news through virtual reality. By placing a special headset on your head, you can suddenly be transported to places you may have never imagined. With this capability, imagine what journalists and reporters are able to do when it comes to providing you with news.
You won’t have to imagine for much longer, since there are many media outlets that are adopting this method into their reporting. Some sources that are adopting this are New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Wall Street Journal, which can be seen in the ten examples provided by VR today magazine. In fact, I myself got to experience the New York Times experience in my digital journalism class. My professor brought in some glasses sent out by the New York Times, and after downloading the app NYTVR I was able to be immersed in the world of their news stories.
And that is one of the goals of using this technology for journalism mediums. According to the New York Times, one photographer wrote that while photographs can add character to a story, they just felt that a phot was not providing the emotional impact they were looking to get out of the article. And virtual reality was able to provide that perspective that had not been achievable before. The Washington Post found a similar use for virtual reality. But, while it can provide a great experience and bring you somewhere that you may have never imagined you could get to see, it does have its obstacles to being used.
The Washington Post says one of the obstacles they faced came about when they were creating their experience. They originally had set up a way for someone to download a file based on the experience, and then they would need a controller to move themselves around. So they decided to get rid of the download, and the controller, and tried to find a way to present their experience in a browser on a computer. Other obstacles that sources found are being able to ‘un-cartoonize’ the visual aspect, and the uncomfortable headgear that many sources are using.
This experience is amazing, and is great step forward in journalism. No longer are we reading words off of a page, or hearing commentary from news sources on TV, we are living the experience. It is a costly expense though for journalists to create this experience. As noted by Columbia Journalism Review, one project, the Harvest of Change done by The Des Moines Register, cost just under $5o,000. In order to acquire a virtual reality experience, it is almost like producing a movie. There needs to be people to record video, someone to put the pieces together and format it for specific mediums, and teams to create the picture with life like features making it feel even more realistic to the viewer. Columbia Journalism Review also notes that, while it is costly to produce now, in time it may cost less and will take less time to put together. Not every story will need a team behind it to create the entire experience for the viewer, and they will soon be able to experience these stories more often.
Even though costs could be decreasing, there is still one problem that these sources will have. Virtual reality can make some people sick, or feel nauseous. And so, the audience viewing this would decrease. But according to Science Daily, Columbia University has found a way that could decrease the amount of sickness one feels while using virtual reality. By changing the field of view responding to virtually perceived motion; they were finding a way to close the gap between what can be experienced as physical movement and virtual movement. This technique is able to help reduce the experience of feeling sick while using the virtual reality device.
But this is just the beginning for virtual reality, it is working its way into other fields besides journalism and providing experiences and services for others that one may have never thought imaginable. In time, I think it will continue to move through fields and make the world easier to be experienced. And for journalism, I think virtual reality will become a more powerful news source than most that are currently out. Being able to ‘take someone to the news’, is new to people, but it also is powerful. You are not just looking at pictures, or reading constructed words to provoke emotion, you are getting to be there in the action (basically). Of course, it is costly to news sources, and maybe even consumers reading news who need to buy a headset, but within time costs will go down, the bulk of the headgear will go down, and the sickness one might feel while exploring virtual reality will decrease even more, if not completely disappear for everyone.
Honestly, this may be many years away, but I feel like virtual reality breaking news will come about. Instead of having to wait for stories being posted, the small devices (if any are still being used) to experience it will be super accessible, and one day phones will be notified by an application about ‘breaking news’ and then you are suddenly part of the news with just a quick click.