Immersive Journalism: Playing with Virtual Reality

Showcase Presenter: Helen Sissons

In the last few years some of the most respected names in journalism, including the BBC, the New York Times and the ABC, have been experimenting with immersive technologies such as 360-degree video and, more recently, virtual reality. Such technologies allow for intimacy and immediacy never before seen in news and open up new possibilities for news storytelling. For the last three years, AUT’s journalism programme has included a final semester, capstone assessment in which students produce a piece of long-form immersive journalism, but up until now it has not involved 360-degree video or virtual reality.  In collaboration with Dr Thomas Cochrane, from CfLAT , the pair used authentic practice-based principles to design a workshop to introduce students to the basics of creating 360-degree and VR elements for their long-form story. A core feature of the workshop was the students working in teams to film and compile an interactive experience based in the Media Centre on level 5 of WG. The work of the teams was then pooled to create an interactive experience where the audience can enter the Media Centre virtually and interact with “hot spots” to learn about newsroom features such as x-lite phones, the student website and the TV studio.  

Attendees at this showcase will be shown student examples and attendees will have the opportunity of experimenting with Google Cardboard HMD to visit the Media Centre virtually (smart phones required). Demonstration of how participants can create their own VR environment using a simple web-based platform will be shown.

Helen Sissons is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism. Her research interests include the evolution of journalism practice, specifically how technology has affected newsrooms. She specialises in newsroom ethnography. She has written scholarly articles on journalism practice and the teaching of journalism, as well as a textbook, Practical Journalism (2006, Sage).