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15+ Great Examples of VR Journalism and 360 Reporting12 min read

What does the adaptation of immersive VR technology mean for the future of journalism?

Nick Rasmussen

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 reporting and VR as a way to spellbind the viewer. VR Journalism, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s have a look!


An ordinary day in North Korea

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To start us off on today’s list of VR journalism, we’re heading to Korea. North Korea more specifically. North Korea is one of those places where even the most adventorous and high-risk reporters refrain from going. There’s something about that absolutely closed prison of a society that just creeps you out. Venture to Pyongyang and watch as fortunate youths of Korea get to stay at a resort where the video games make America the bad guys and where constant imagery of the great leader, decorate every room. Take on an eye-opening trip with Will Ripley from CNN and get a one-time insight into the world’s most infamous nation state.

Publication: CNN


Visiting Dad in Prison

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Ever wondered how your life would be different if you had been raised under different circumstances? Living with one parent isn’t a rarety these days, as about half of all marriages ends in divorce. What is it like though, to have a parent in prison? That’s a different story entirely, but for some families, that fact is as real as breakfast on a monday morning and trips to the bathroom. In this 360 video we get a glance inside the life of Derek Smith, who has been jailed for the majority of his life after he robbed a jewellery store. Watch as his family gets excited, all ready to come for a visit. This is a great example of how to utilize VR as an empathy machine, and cases like these surely helps pave the way forward for VR journalism as a whole. A tremendous 360 video journalism job done by the New York Times.

Publication: The New York Times


Combat tactics at school

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Poland has recently been taking up a lot of formalised army training across various high schools throughout the entire country. As of the time of writing this there’s 100+ schools who has picked up this activity. Today we’ll take a look at the story of Doris Klimala, who has been attending one of these schools. The 360 VR video section takes us through basic weapon training, paramedic practice and several interesting military drills.

Publication: BBC News


Inside Boeing’s Starliner Capsul

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In this immersive case of VR journalism and 360 video reporting, we’ll get to visit the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas. Along with a group of employees we’ll get to see the inside of the Boeing Starliner Capsule, which is a capsule that takes astronauts to the international space station (ISS). The Starliner holds a capacity of up to seven people, and is built to remain on-orbit for over half a year at the time. Enjoy the company of Celena Dopart, who is a human factory systems engineer for the commercial crew program at Boeing, as she talks you through the configuration of the vehicle. A great little insight into what an astronauts life is like.

Publication: NBC News


Barbie-obsessed scavenger

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Throughout the history of televised journalism, there’s been a long-standing tradition of wrapping up the day’s headlines, with an uplifting or interesting story as a final segment. Our next clip is a terrific example of one of those. We’d like to introduce you all to 35-year-old Azusa Sakamotom, who has what some may regard as a unhealthy obsession with Barbie. Her entire studio apartment is decorated with a hot pink overlay, and looking through her list of posessions, it’s hard to find anything that would exist outside the girls section of a Toys ‘R Us. Her personal collection of dolls masses a total of 160 barbie Dolls. Not exactly critical to informing the general public on matters of importance, but this 360 video sure makes for one heck of an interesting glimpse into a life quite different from our own.

Publication: Yahoo News


Ivory Burn

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Back in 2016, 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. VR Journalism, and the NYT’s 360 video reporting team takes you on a trip to stand face-to-face with the harsh reality of the African ivory business.

Publication: The New York Times


Hajj 360

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Every year, thousands of Muslims travel to the Saudi city of Mecca as part of their religious pilgrimage or “Hajj”. The VR 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 in beautiful 360 video.

Publication: Al Jazeera


Donald Trump Rally

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“We’re gonna be bigger, better and stronger”. Not much journalism (VR or otherwise) 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.

Publication: The New York Times


Pencils of Promise

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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.

Publication: Huffinton Post RYOT


A Virtual Reality Guide to Virtual Reality

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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 video introduction to Virtual Reality. Hint: It’s not all about VR journalism and 360 video reporting.

Publication: The Wall Street Journal


6×9: Solitary Confinement

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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 VR story and some might say “too” immersive indication to what life in a 6×9 cell would feel like. Give it a try!

Publication: The Guardian


The Fight for Falluja

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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 and 360 video reporting done right.

Publication: The New York Times


Seeking Home

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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 through the use of great 360 video reporting technology. Sitting in Calais, France these unfortunate refugees try make it across the English Channel with the hopes of a new life in England. VR Journalism brings you one step closer to seeing life through the eyes of those less fortunate than you, this clip is a hell of a case for a more mainstream adaptation of the technology.

Publication: The Huffington Post


The Displaced

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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 VR story about three of them, and in it, you get to experience a bit less comfort than what our demographic analytics here at VR Today indicate that you’re used to. The use of 360 video reporting is exciting, but from time to time – and with content such as this, it can be terrifyingly informative as well.

Publication: The New York Times


Behind the Scenes of DNC

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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 gorgeous video reporting project in 360 degrees VR for your viewing pleasure.

Publication: NBC News

360 Video: Total Solar Eclipse

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The team over at BBC has put together this extraordinary example of 360 video reporting, as they cover a total solar eclipse from a whopping 38,000 meters above the sea level. The journey you will undertake on this trip, is one that will make your jaw drop, if you have yet to experience 360 video technology for the first time. Prepare to be amazed.

Publication: BBC


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.

Written by Nick Rasmussen

Blogging about VR and helping Envato grow their affiliate program.

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