New York Times Wins Again

Second Virtual Reality Project a Success

I’ll start off by saying that I was quite impressed when I saw that the New York Times’ newest virtual reality project was in its own app. I was even more impressed when I put the Google Cardboard on and gave their newest virtual reality, The Displaced, a try. Although there were aspects that could have been better, which I will explain below, I think overall it was a success.

To start, I was a little concerned when I saw the clip lasted 11 minutes. That’s mostly because in my opinion, if you have the Google Cardboard on a little too long, you can get dizzy. There were a few times throughout that I did have to blink a few times or close my eyes for a moment, because either things were fuzzy or I was starting to get dizzy. I will say that through their storytelling, I was interested the whole time. I thought it was smart to pick three people, with very different, but similar lives. I think it was effective how they bounced back between the children, explaining different aspects of their life. It was also important to see the children and their interaction with other people. I thought the last shot with the boy sitting on the wall with his friends, looking at the statue, added a lot to my perspective of the boy. It showed that through all he is going through, he is just a kid.

The quality of the video was good, and I felt it was easy to find the focus. I will add that after watching a number of virtual reality projects, I have moved past the — oh my, this is super cool, let me look around everywhere — stage. When the young children came up on screen and were looking essentially at you, they were always in the same position. They always stood in the same location that you first started the video.

I thought it was powerful too that they used the children’s voices and no narration. They let the children and the sights you were seeing tell the story, and that is powerful. The only difficult part was reading what the children were saying. Sometimes, I would be looking in a different direction and have to move to see the words. Once I was able to find the words, I really had to focus to see what they said because they were white and not very clear. Perhaps, they could have added a box behind the words to make the words pop more. I think knowing what the children were saying was extremely important, therefore the words needed to be easier to understand. This was probably the biggest “problem” with the virtual reality project.

Nonetheless, I still thought they told a great story.

I think what makes the New York Time’s virtual reality standout compared to what ABC News did, was the quality of the storytelling. A story was told, a problem was introduced, the audience met real characters and saw a place they are not able be. Although this story could be told through a written article or even a news package, virtual reality allows you to really be there in the shoes of the children that are being talked about. I think that is the beauty of immersive journalism, and that is why the New York Times is going to continue to be the news leader in the virtual reality medium for storytelling.

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