Three VR journalism reports you should read right now
Three years of experiences in VR journalism. Three years of countless experiments by journalists who are not afraid of trying out something new. Where does VR journalism stand in terms of technology, storytelling techniques and user expectations? Three reports, published in 2015, 2016 and 2017, tell the story of an exciting medium and its road ahead.
If you are interested in VR, maybe coming from an editorial angle or maybe you have an engineering background, you should know this: Journalism will be one of the key sectors that determine the (near?) future of Virtual Reality.
Some journalists are excited about the endless ways of telling an immersive story, some want to put audiences into their protagonists’ shoes, others want to take them to places they have never been to. There is a lot of enthusiasm with regards to VR. However, there are also a lot of shortcomings: high production costs, little experience in storytelling techniques and almost no market penetration because, honestly: Who wants to wear these huuuge VR goggles?
If you want to understand more about the state of VR in media right now, look no further. Here, you can find three recent studies published about VR journalism.
2015: Virtual Reality Journalism (by the Tow Center)
This study, written by Raney Aronson-Rath, James Milward, Taylor Owen and Fergus Pitt, goes into detail about the production process by looking at a specific use case. From project design to distribution, you will find helpful information about the process.
2016: Viewing the Future? Virtual Reality in Journalism (by the Knight Foundation)
The report offers key trends in the business, including major technology players. Various market studies are being reviewed and the authors come to the conclusion:
“[…] there remain weaknesses in the emerging consumer experience. Bulky headsets, limited mobile battery life and intermittent sensor tracking are still areas that must be overcome to enable mass adoption.”
2017: VR For News: The New Reality? (by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)
This most recent study, written by Zillah Watson, is an in-depth look into newsrooms that have picked up this topic. Watson describes how media organizations are currently tackling VR, from production to setting up teams and in how far they have been able to generate revenue streams (spoiler alert: still much work ahead in that area).
Revisiting these three reports, they all cover different matters, so it certainly makes sense to go through all of them. In general, it seems a bit as if we are stuck. VR journalists are in the experimentation phase - still. This is an all too familiar early stage of innovative topic in media. It takes more time to elaborate, more time for media organizations to experiment (and please not only the big ones — where is local VR journalism?), more people to pick up goggles and more businesses to invest in VR.
My bet is that it’s worth diving into VR.
About the author: Linda Rath-Wiggins, PhD, is the co-founder and CEO of Vragments, a Berlin-based VR startup that creates VR experiences in collaboration with newsrooms (e.g. this German VR example with Deutschlandradio Kultur). Vragments is developing a VR tool called Fader which allows users to create and publish VR stories easily and fast. You can already sign up to try out the prototype. Vragments produced a first Fader use case in cooperation with the Center for Investigative Reporting.