The Use of VR in Journalism: Opportunities and Challenges

The Use of VR in Journalism: Opportunities and Challenges

Irina Tribusean (Technische Universität Ilmenau, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2874-7.ch008

Abstract

After games, education, health, and military training, virtual reality (VR) conquered journalism, too. During the last several years, more and more journalists decide to experiment with the new technology, while some media organizations, like BBC, have dedicated departments for its development. Still, like any innovation, VR brought many opportunities, but also as many challenges (or maybe even more). Besides putting the audience in the middle of the event and increasing credibility, the use of VR for journalistic production also means new skills, new responsibilities towards the audience, and issues related to distribution of the products. This chapter starts with necessary definitions and background research, and then presents three opportunities and three challenges of the use of VR in journalism, finishing with further research suggestions as a conclusion.
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Background

VR is not a new term and usually it does not need a special explanation. Nevertheless, as it is rooted in technological fields, its common interpretation is rather medium related and focused on the technical capabilities of a computer (see the definitions of Jerald (2016) and Sherman & Craig (2019), for example). In the context of journalism, the term gains more complex meanings, including a reference to the user and his or her experience with the technology and the content, as suggested by Steuer (1995). A suitable definition is proposed by Aronson-Rath et al. (2015): “Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive media experience that replicates either a real or imagined environment and allows users to interact with this world in ways that feel as if they are there.” (Aronson-Rath et al., 2015, p. 12). The three main characteristic elements of VR are reflected in this definition: immersion, presence and interactivity. Again, none of them is new, but all of them gained additional meaning and importance since VR became more popular.

Key Terms in this Chapter

VR Journalism: A type of journalism where virtual reality technology is used for production and dissemination of information.

Storyliving: A term used in the context of VR journalism to refer to the experiencing a story as a participant rather that watching it from a witness position.

Immersive Journalism: A type of journalism, which uses immersive technologies for production and dissemination of information; also called VR journalism.

Fear of Missing Out: Short FOMO; refers to the fear of the user to not look into the right direction while watching a 360° video, thus missing important information.

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