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Digital Storytelling

Media (R)evolutions: Virtual Reality – a future business model for newsrooms?

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
 
Virtual reality (VR) in journalism is still in its early years of development. However, it has enormous potential to transform the way news content is made and consumed. Offering a new narrative form, VR has become increasingly popular in newsrooms. Is this the way of the future? Is virtual reality a feasible way to present news? Is this a lucrative stream of revenue for newsrooms?

VR is “an immersive media experience that replicates either a real or imagined environment and allows users to interact with this world in ways that feel as if they are there.” Immersive storytelling may come in a few forms such as “virtual reality,” “augmented reality” and “spherical/360-degree video.”  While early experimentation of VR in media focused on documentaries, by 2017 there is a larger variety of VR news content expanding to short features, foreign correspondence, political news coverage and others.

According to the recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, further success of VR in journalism is highly dependent not only on good/diverse content, but also on the adaptation of VR headsets by consumers to fully immerse themselves in the virtual reality experience. While the experimentation of virtual reality storytelling has been on the rise, the adaptation of VR headsets by consumers is still low. It is estimated that total high-end headset sales are around 2 million worldwide. Others predict that by 2020 up to 34 million headsets will be sold, with virtual reality market reaching $150 billion in sales

New thinking on digital storytelling

Maya Brahmam's picture

I have been reading with interest some of the questions posed on storytelling inside the World Bank. The recent blog post by Bruce Wydick is a case in point. Reactions ranged from positive to some uneasiness around the idea that we’re using stories to share results, when we’re generally more comfortable with a “Just the facts” approach. One concern seems to be that we might surrender our decision-making to the emotion of a good story versus hard evidence.

In fact, doesn’t the word fabulist mean someone who stretches the truth a bit, by telling stories? I was therefore not so surprised to find storytelling used as an explanation for NBC news anchor Brian Williams’ recent troubles. A Washington Post article about Williams noted, “Former colleagues reveal a man who took such delight in spinning yarns that he could sometimes lose sight of where the truth began and where it ended.”

We have examined brain science and other areas to figure out why stories are so compelling, and I’ve blogged about this in this space before. Storytelling is compelling because it’s memorable, shareable (nice feature in this digital world), and relatable (people respond and retain for longer material with an emotional content).