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SXSW Interactive 2015

Virtual Reality Journalism

While the potential for virtual reality has long been theorized, the launch of the developer kit for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has brought the technology into the mainstream. While most of the content development to date has occurred in the fields of gaming and film there is tremendous potential to use virtual reality for a new form of journalism - immersing users in events that they would otherwise not have access to - war, hardship, far away places. Highlighting the multiple immersive journalism projects built by de la Peña and exploring the virtual reality journalism pilot project between the Tow Center, Vice News and the Secret Location, this panel will bring together leading technologists, academics, and journalists at the cutting edge of this new field to ask whether virtual reality can effect how users empathize with and better understand international events.

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  1. How can Virtual Reality and immersive interactivity be used as a tool for international reporting? We will demo a new collaborative virtual reality research project between the Columbia Journalism School, Vice News and the Secret Location and explore what we learned about this new form of journalistic storytelling.
  2. Does virtual reality journalism effect how users empathize with and better understand international events? The core mandate of international journalism is to make people better understand the lives and experiences of others. We will discuss whether virtual reality offers a new means of bringing people closer together via media.
  3. What are the logistical production challenges to doing virtual reality journalism in the field? Based on a trial project with Vice News, we will discuss how to do VR journalism, from pitch and story development to filming in field and post production.
  4. How does virtual reality effect the narrative form of journalism and what new storytelling techniques are required? Bringing people into foreign contexts, whether through print, audio, photography or videos, has always been the core function of journalism, but adding an immersive element has the potential to challenge the linear narrative form of journalistic storytelling.
  5. Where does the technology currently stand, and what are the 3D/360 degree camera prototypes that could be used by journalists? We will also debate where the technology is going, how it will be funded, and how it will be mainstreamed to a consumer news market



Taylor Owen, Research Director, Columbia School of Journalism

Meta Information:

  • Tags: virtual reality
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Content and Distribution
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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