Storytelling. The art of showing and telling stories in a rich and elaborate manner. For as long as we can trail back our lineage, stories has been a foundational cornerstone within our cultural heritage, and this regardless of where we individually may hail from.
With the evolution of media as a storytelling tool, journalism has grown to become one of humanity’s greatest shields against itself. Defending the public from corruption, unmasking fraud and revealing unpleasant truths – traditional journalism is an industry we all owe a massive thanks. Utilising photographs, text and video to bring reality just a little bit closer to the reader – newspapers and publishing houses are never slow to pick up on what works.
Virtual Reality and 360° videos are both exciting new media types, so it comes as no shock to us, that several newspapers and magazines are already taking advantage of this opportunity.
Today we will have a look at how some of the major players of news reporting have taken on the challenge of utilising 360 video and VR as a way to spellbind the viewer. VR Journalism, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s have a look!
1. Ivory Burn (2016)
Earlier this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya lit a massive pile of elephant tusks in an attempt to present to the world, how hard Kenya works to end the illegal ivory business that threatens the Wild Elephants, almost driving them towards extinction.
2. Hajj 360 (2015)
Every year, thousands of Muslims travel to the Saudi city of Mecca as part of their religious pilgrimage or “Hajj”. The journey involves visiting the Kaaba Muazzama. According to legend, the structure was the first House of Worship and was built or re-built by Ibrahim and Ishmael on God’s instructions. Al Jazeera has worked on an experience in which you are on-site with their journalists as they explore the area.
3. Donald Trump Rally (2016)
“We’re gonna be bigger, better and stronger”. Not much stirs up controversy and strong emotions more than the 2016 GOP Nominee, Donald J. Trump, and in order to captivate the hype going on at his rallies, the New York Times booked a ticket at the 2016 election and presents it to us all in 360° video.
4. Pencils of Promise (2015)
Pencils of Promise is a global community who works towards the goal of providing the human right of access to quality education. PoP is guided by a revolutionary “for-purpose” approach. Huffington Post takes us into the classroom and shows us the world through the eyes of their volunteers, and the communities with which they work.
5. A Virtual Reality Guide to Virtual Reality (2016)
So – what’s the deal with Virtual Reality? While many of you readers out there might already have a pretty good idea what this is all about, there’s a lot of people out there who couldn’t tell the HTC Vive from the Oculus Rift if their lives depended on it. On top of that, they might not even be gamers, which narrows down their interest rate significantly.
Does Virtual Reality provide anything for the tech-sceptic, non-gaming individual? According to the Wall Street Journal, the answer to that is a reassuring “Hell yes!”. Have a look at this great video they made as a 360° introduction to Virtual Reality.
6. 6×9: Solitary Confinement (2016)
What is life like in solitary confinement? Those of us with demanding career paths or a vibrant gaming hobby might think we have an inkling – but do we really? The Guardian made an immersive and some might say “too” immersive indication to what life in a 6×9 cell would feel like. Give it a try!
7. The Fight for Falluja (2016)
If you live in the western world, chances are that your entire notion of warfare is from what you can read in books and watch in the theater. How very different, is the world if you happen to have been born in the city of Falluja in Iraq. For the past 2 years, the city has been under siege by the Islamic State. In the video below, you’re transported to the heat of it all. Published by the New York Times, this video that runs for a whopping 11 minutes, brings you close to the dusty ruins of a once iconic middle eastern city. Within Iraq, Falluja is known as the “city of mosques” for the more than 200 mosques found in the city and the surrounding villages. This is a great example of VR Journalism done right.
8. Seeking Home (2015)
What’s life like, if you happen to be the one behind the eyes of a refugee fleeing the struggle of war and hardship? To answer that question, the Huffington Post and the Associated Press has worked together to bring you closer to the lives these people lead. Sitting in Calais, France these unfortunate refugees try make it across the English Channel with the hopes of a new life in England.
9. The Displaced (2015)
Fleeing from sites of war, 30 million children from around the world has been driven from their homes, forced to find a way to live on. The Displaced is a story about three of them.
10. Behind the Scenes of DNC (2016)
Finally, there was a behind the scenes project being worked on at the Democratic National Convention. 35.000 people attended the event, and in an attempt to bring the event closer to external spectators, the NBC news team did this video in 360 degrees for your viewing pleasure.
What’s Next for VR Journalism as a medium?
While what we have touched on today has been primarily regarding the war and US politics, there’s no doubt that all this content have caused a ripple effect, leading out to other niches of the news media.
Recently, NextVR has been offering content from the Youth Olympics with 360° video reporting, and while reading up on the research for this post we discovered that 360° video has become an actual part of journalistic educational material in Ivy League schools. These two, in combination with the rapidly growing number of 360° videos this year, shows us that VR video isn’t on it’s way out quite yet.
With that in mind, we thank you for reading, and thank our lucky stars that Virtual Reality is just getting started! That’s a wrap folks. Stay tuned as we will be reporting on more exciting journalism and in-use examples of Virtual Reality again.