The current and rapid advancement of virtual reality in the 21st century has ultimately introduced a new way to tell narratives. Recently the journalism industry has collaborated with the technology creating and sharing news stories through the platform. This production allows people to gain a first-hand experience of the events situated and described in news stories. This idea of contemporary, immersive journalism allows participants the capability to enter a virtually recreated scenario representing the news piece. An article recently written in October 2016 by Haptical lists several media brands that have adopted the new virtual reality platform where their news stories are presented in 360 degree videos. These brands include the New York Times, The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Time, The Economist, Huffington Post and National Geographic. This introduction of virtual reality in the journalism industry was also involved in the top nine newsroom trends of 2015 and as one can see it has progressed even further in the current year.
Focusing more solely on National Geographic their determination to produce high-end visual stories has only been further complimented by the launch of ‘Nat Geo VR’, a virtual reality channel that takes viewers to the scene of action. Their videos share 360 degree views of a number of locations, including a volcanic eruption in Kamchatka and the cliffs over Victoria Falls getting an insight of the straddling border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The magazine’s Facebook presence includes almost 43 million page likes and their Victoria Falls video received a massive 6.5 million views and 131 053 shares.
On the 25th of August 2016, National Geographic introduced the first virtual reality experience featuring President Barack Obama. It provided an up-close and personal look at Obama’s trip to Yosemite celebrating its 100-year anniversary of the National Park service. The video was created to allow people to experience the beauty of the US national park transporting people to a place very few get to see.
The collaboration of journalism and virtual reality has allowed audiences the opportunity to participate in first-hand experiences most would not be able to have. The potential possibilities that this combination could set for the future is endless. On the 28th October 2016, National Geographic published an article discussing one idea regarding this new collaboration and space– “the technology that simulates an expedition to the red planet may one day allow us to see other worlds through the eyes of astronauts.” It discusses that through the use of virtual reality technology, as an audience, we could potentially be able to gain an experience that puts us in the situation of an astronaut discovering the planet Mars for the first time (something that has also been reported soon to occur). This would ultimately introduce us to a world where the impossible is possible.
The recent newsroom trend, new convergence, has allowed the technology of virtual reality to collaborate with journalism and storytelling bringing audiences new possibilities and experiences that ordinary news reporting could not. From hiking through the Yosemite National Park with President Obama to encountering an erupting volcano in Kamchatka, the magazine National Geographic is a prime example of how this combination has changed journalism forever.