A Frontier of War and Evolution: ABC’s Virtual Reality Coverage of Syria

Journalists: put down those pens and pads of paper, rest your thumbs from those breaking news tweets, and watch as ABC News pioneers the latest medium of journalism.

On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, ABC News introduced virtual reality (VR) footage to its newscast. A partnership between the live-action production company Jaunt VR and ABC provides on-site coverage of stories to viewers in a 360 degree-experience.

ABC’s premiere of virtual reality took viewers to a frontier of war and urgency in Inside Syria VR. The footage tells the story of the Syrian war surrounding isolated and endangered Damascus. In Damascus, archaeologists work to rescue and hide historical artifacts from across Syria to protect the country’s history from ISIS pillaging. The 16-camera documenting device then takes viewers into the streets of Syria. Historical sights and war zone encounters bring the Syrian crisis into perspective for those of us that have merely followed news reports of this global threat.

The integration of virtual reality into the field of journalism adds yet another multimedia platform to tell a story with. Journalistic writing has largely offered us an objective reading of the news. Virtual reality takes this a step further by putting us before the objectivity of multiple lenses so that we can experience the news.

Imagine – your VR viewer places you in the middle of the rain forest, but rather than being surrounded by exotic species and an expanse of trees, you are in the middle of an acre that’s been slashed and burned for crop land. Or, maybe VR footage lands you in Haiti, where access to clean drinking water is limited and you “walk” a mile to retrieve water with a Haitian. These global crises affect all of us. With the help of journalistic virtual reality, we may develop a better understanding of world issues and the weight of our own decisions.

Technology has helped us embody McLuhan’s theory of a “global village.” I believe the adoption of virtual reality throughout the field of journalism will put global issues at our fingertips – so long as journalists courageously enter the field. With heightened audience engagement and experience, virtual reality may even extend beyond revolutionizing journalism to redefining how humans respond to it.

Photo Credit: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/fullpage/abc-news-vr-inside-syria-33768357

Smartphones and VR partner to give viewers a realistic experience. Photo Credit: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/fullpage/abc-news-vr-inside-syria-33768357

Source Published: Sept. 18, 2015

A look at ABC News VR: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/fullpage/abc-news-vr-inside-syria-33768357


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