How appropriate to find this piece in The New York Times about virtual reality and how it may change the way we tell stories precisely the first week of classes at Columbia University's School of Journalism. I spent the first class session for my course, Multiplatform Design & Storytelling, presenting the variety of storytelling strategies that we have in our bag of tools today. I reminded the young members of my class that "as a man of a certain age", I remember when we had limited options to report a story, but not today.
So I must return to the students next week with information about this virtual reality in journalism story, what the Times refers to as "a new frontier for journalism".
How does virtual reality ties in with storytelling?
It is, in my view, a way to truly get the story and those absorbing it to get as physically close as the new technology allows. With virtual reality technologies, it is possible to transport people into those events.
A sampling of how virtual reality and journalism come together comes via a documentary that relates the virtual reality experience that catapulted audiences into the center of the Millions March protest in New York in December. Created by two experienced directors, Chris Milk and Spike Jonze, in partnership with Vice News, the project is a virtual-reality journalism broadcast. It will make its debut on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival and in a new virtual reality mobile app called Vrse, which is available on the Vice News site.
I can imagine that virtual reality storytelling will play well on mobile devices and it will be one of those new and vibrant strategies that publications will begin to experiment with more in the months ahead. For multimedia story packages, a great way to take audience engagement further. The challenge remains for mobile editors to understand these new forms of telling stories, and knowing precisely when to use them.