The New York Times steps toward the world of virtual reality. Today, both National Public Radio (NPR) and Fortune Magazine reported on The New York Times’ commitment to use the new medium of VR for serious journalism. Technically, this is the next step — it is really 360 degree video because it lacks a 3D component, but it is still very exciting.
The New York Times will use its legacy print distribution network to deliver over 1 million Google Cardboard headsets to its subscribers. They will be producing three short VR films before the end of 2015. NPR’s Ari Shapiro said to Jake Silverstein of The New York Times Magazine, “I think a lot of people imagine Virtual Reality as: experience an alien planet or a haunted house . . . there’s a real entertainment value. What’s the journalism value to it?”
Jake Silverstein replied, “Particularly in the realm of foreign reporting, what we do, and what other journalistic institutions do, is bear witness [to what is occurring], and this is a way we can put our readers in a position where they can bear witness themselves.”
Ari Shapiro talked about the short VR film produced by Vice News. This film goes into a village of Ebola survivors, and viewers experience the village coming back to life in the aftermath of the disease. Would The New York Times stories do something similar? Silverstein indicated that the NYT film would be a more complicated effort. The newspaper has already produced one, but their next one goes further.
The next story is called “The Displaced.” Silverstein said that there are 60 million displaced people in the world — more than any time following World War II. Half of them are children. The New York Times film will show three children’s stories.
It is the beginning of a new way to experience journalism.
All images from iStockPhoto.