As a journalism student I was thrilled to learn that Virtual Reality journalism has become ‘a thing.’ The possibilities are endless of its applications and i can’t wait to see what it brings. That said, I feel that I am a good way off but am confident the by the end of my Degree at UniSA (shameless plug) that I well be more than capable at using this technology. If you want to learn more, click below to read a riveting article on the subject!
Keep on learning 🙂
Virtual Reality Journalism, the next logical medium?
Journalism has seen many changes since its transition from the town crier, to written form, to publishing presses, to mass distribution, to online publication, blogs, v-logs and of course social media. The next addition to this list is virtual reality.
Virtual reality technology, after losing traction in its initial introduction in the 1980s, recently re-emerging two years ago better than ever.
It is believed to be the next step in journalism production, as enables journalist to not only tell a story, but to immerse the audience into the imagery and sounds, effectively making them part of the story.
Although currently access to virtual reality technology is in its early stages, it is predicted to be readily available in 2020, as many companies continue producing new and improved technology to support this growing industry.
Music video director/ producer and virtual reality pioneer, Chris Milk, shared his passion for the media platform in his TED Talk recorded in April 2015, where he presented very compelling case for the benefits of virtual reality in the media.
Speaking very compassionately, Milk shared his belief that virtual reality has ‘the potential to change the world’.
In his presentation, Milk shows a story of a twelve year old Palestinian girl who sits on the ground in her home and shares with the audience her story.
Within the headset, the audience members are virtually sitting in that room listening, feeling the emotion, seeing the world of which this young girl lives.
Milk explains ‘it can change people’s perceptions of each other’ and indeed I believe it can.
There have been countless social experiments such as the SBS program, Filthy Rich and Homeless, that have highlighted the difference in how receptive people are in helping people in need when they are visually confronted by the reality of situation.
However we would be remiss if we did not look at the possible negative implication.
Whilst Milk’s presentation did show an emotional well-meaning representation, there is the likelihood that virtual reality technology could well be exploited, by less than reputable sources.
According to Mickey Huff, via an article published in February 2018, the exploitation of the media by unscrupulous sources reporting ‘Fake News,’ also referred to as ‘disinformation and propaganda’, is a very prominent issue.
Whist many are able to recognize articles that are questionable in their current format, the potential for misguiding individuals with augmented images via this method of reporting is immense which, as with previous cases, can have disastrous, life-threatening consequences.
Another potential issue is that of secondary trauma, the psychological distress caused by exposure to firsthand accounts of others traumatic experiences.
In 2017, a journal was written regarding the prevalence of P.T.S.D. and burn-out in Emergency Medicine residence reported that over half of these professional have suffered emotional issues, as a result of constant exposure to trauma of various forms.
Whilst this may appear unrelated, it stands to reason that a machine with the capability to place the person among a traumatic event, even from a safe distance, this could potentially have negative consequences, or even trigger pre-existing issues.
However having addressed these issues, the benefits of virtual reality technology, besides in journalism, arguably out way the negative implications.
One such applications of virtual reality technology, outside of the media, that has shown great promise is its use in the treatment of individuals with mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder and various phobias.
Either way, whether you are a fan or not, virtual reality journalism is on its way, and likely to change the way we experience news articles.
From a journalism perspective, used responsibly, virtual reality has the potential to revolutionize the way we convey our message to the audience.
A well published article can potentially enable an audience to actually walk in another person’s shoes, so they can fully embrace a situation from another person’s perspective.
It is imperative however that the negative implications are not ignored, so this technology can be used in a way that enriches the audiences experience, not detracts from it.
The possibilities of virtual reality journalism are endless, by means of allowing
journalists to share not only a story, but an experience.