VR Journalism. Non-fictional storytelling in 360 degree

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract Nonny de la Peña pioneered the work with VR in journalism. Since the publication of her first piece “Hunger in Los Angeles” in 2012, many other journalistic and non-journalistic media organizations and NPO have been working with this new storytelling format. The New York Times belongs to the ones, really pushing the format by sending out millions of Google Cardboard sets to their subscribers in April 2015 and by releasing their own app NYT VR in November 2015 to publish content in 360° on a regular basis. Since then, others followed the example as ARTE360, SZ VR by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung, BlickVR by the Swiss Blick or the Guardian with its 6x9 / Solitary Confinement. Other non-journalistic platforms as Within or Jaunt VR also publish non-fictional content. VR Journalism includes both, the work in “real” VR, virtual reality, which is computer-generated content (that can be based on photographs or video footage) or the work with 360-degree video. 360-degree video is often called “the low hanging” fruit of VR (Hernandez 2016) as its production is way less resource-intense than real VR. Also, due to reception-based arguments, most publishers currently produce content in 360°. These videos can be watched on smartphones and even in most browsers for desk computers whereat contents in VR must be watched with corresponding headsets, for example the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. In their beginnings, most editorial teams had to collaborate with external producers (as for example Within) to produce content in 360°. Meanwhile many editorial teams have their own department capable of producing corresponding content in-house. However, how to tell convincing and compelling stories in 360° remains a challenge for producers in fiction and non-fiction and with this, the topic on the agenda of practitioners’ conferences around the world. For many, storytelling in 360° remains unsatisfying and they see the format rather as the result of a transformation process already envisioning more (or true) interactive formats. To learn more about journalistic or non-fictional storytelling in 360°, we decided to realize a research project generating our own experience working with the format. Between September 2016 and January 2017, we realized a non-fictional production in 360° together with our graduating class. The students developed and produced the content resulting in a multimedia and trans-media publication I might introduce in my presentation. As a researcher, I accompanied the project and applied participating observation and qualitative, semi-structured interviews to generate insights about challenges and potentials our students perceived in their work with the format. I conducted nine interviews with students who did the visual part, with students who did the audio part (sound design and spatial audio) and with an external expert with experience in 360° production who accompanied the production. Applying inductive, thematic analysis (Mischler 1986; Riessman 1993), I analyzed the collected data and generated recommendations for non-fictional storytelling in VR. In my paper and the corresponding talk, I want to introduce our project and the findings we draw from it. I will further compare and integrate our conclusions with recommendations from other experts around the world, who already gained first experiences with the new storytelling format. And I will briefly mention some critical aspects that should be discussed related to journalists’ motivations working with this format that can to a certain degree be traced back to the field of Activism Journalism (Ruigrok 2010). Finally, I will point to remaining open questions and emerging further developments.
Authors Grubenmann, Stephanie
Language English
Keywords Journalism; Digital Journalism; Virtual Reality; Storytelling; Innovation; 360 degree;
Subjects social sciences
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Date 17 October 2017
Event Title ISMI International Symposium on Media Innovation
Event Location Tallinn
Event Dates 16./17.10.17
Contact Email Address stephanie.grubenmann@unisg.ch
References http://medit.tlu.ee/events/ismi-2017
Depositing User Dr. Stephanie Grubenmann
Date Deposited 14 Nov 2017 18:57
Last Modified 20 Jul 2022 17:33
URI: https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/publications/252567


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Grubenmann, Stephanie: VR Journalism. Non-fictional storytelling in 360 degree. 2017. - ISMI International Symposium on Media Innovation. - Tallinn.


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