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Viewing the Future? Virtual Reality In Journalism

by Sam Gill; Mitch Gelman; Patrick Doyle

Mar 13, 2016
Journalism underwent a flurry of virtual reality content creation, production and distribution starting in the final months of 2015. The New York Times distributed more than 1 million cardboard virtual reality viewers and released an app showing a spherical video short about displaced refugees. The Los Angeles Times landed people next to a crater on Mars. USA TODAY took visitors on a ride-along in the "Back to the Future" car on the Universal Studios lot and on a spin through Old Havana in a bright pink '57 Ford. ABC News went to North Korea for a spherical view of a military parade and to Syria to see artifacts threatened by war. The Emblematic Group, a company that creates virtual reality content, followed a woman navigating a gauntlet of anti- abortion demonstrators at a family planning clinic and allowed people to witness a murder-suicide stemming from domestic violence. In short, the period from October 2015 through February 2016 was one of significant experimentation with virtual reality (VR) storytelling. These efforts are part of an initial foray into determining whether VR is a feasible way to present news. The year 2016 is shaping up as a period of further testing and careful monitoring of potential growth in the use of virtual reality among consumers.