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Immersive journalism: Extant corpus and future agenda


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The goal of journalism is to disseminate information to people as accurately and holistically as possible. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the recent advances in multisensory and multimodal technologies have spawned a new research area of immersive journalism (IJ). It is believed that the more holistic and engrossing media experiences afforded by virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies can lead to more comprehensive information internalization, both cognitively and emotionally. The literature has increasingly started to propagate since approximately 2016 onward. Therefore, while the domain is still only in its inception phase, and while the related technologies continue to develop, it is already mature enough to both look backwards to what has already been done and forwards to delineate future research agenda. In this review, we investigate what has been investigated in the extant corpus, including: methods and data, technologies and types of content in experiment settings, and dimensions related to the resulting experiences.
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Immersive journalism: Extant corpus and future agenda
Mila Bujić1[0000-0002-4171-4806] and Juho Hamari1[0000-0002-6573-588X]
1 Gamification Group, Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences,
Tampere University, 33700 Tampere, Finland
Abstract. The goal of journalism is to disseminate information to people as ac-
curately and holistically as possible. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the recent ad-
vances in multisensory and multimodal technologies have spawned a new re-
search area of immersive journalism (IJ). It is believed that the more holistic and
engrossing media experiences afforded by virtual, augmented, and mixed reality
technologies can lead to more comprehensive information internalization, both
cognitively and emotionally. The literature has increasingly started to propagate
since approximately 2016 onward. Therefore, while the domain is still only in its
inception phase, and while the related technologies continue to develop, it is al-
ready mature enough to both look backwards to what has already been done and
forwards to delineate future research agenda. In this review, we investigate what
has been investigated in the extant corpus, including: methods and data, technol-
ogies and types of content in experiment settings, and dimensions related to the
resulting experiences.
Keywords: virtual reality, mixed reality, 360 video, journalism, perspective
taking, literature review
1 Introduction
Immersive journalism (IJ) is becoming increasingly available and popular, primarily
due to The Guardian and the New York Times (NYT) and their 360-degree video sec-
tions. Additionally, NYT had sent out over a million of Google’s Cardboard VR gog-
gles in 2016, introducing their readers to the medium. However, the idea of merging
new technologies and journalism was introduced already in 2010 [A5] with the aim of
creating engaging experiences through placing the user in another’s shoes and bridging
the gap between you and them or there. Originally, it was envisioned as an immersive
virtual reality experience, including embodiment, interactivity, and freedom of move-
ment, which would help represent others’ experience and emphasize promoting empa-
thy and affective understanding [A5, A21]. This trend can also be seen simply as an
extension of previous use of new technologies, with the same purpose of enhancing
user engagements through the development of newsgames [1, 2], and the overall drive
of gamification [5].
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Closely connected to this idea of engagement is the notion of collapse of compassion
[8] which describes the global phenomenon where the distant suffering of many is not
experienced deeply, nor even objectively understood, in terms of its collective individ-
ual effects. Instead, news pieces dealing with these topics are often taken as merely
information, with possibly some experienced uneasiness. Although there is a psycho-
logical defensive reason for this as no one can carry all the burden of the world, it also
hinders compassion and action for the betterment of humanity. Immersive journalism
emerged as an attempt to use new technologies such as virtual reality to bridge this gap.
Virtual reality (VR) is sometimes referred to as an “empathy machine“, particularly in
popular discourse [9], presenting a technology that might be able to enhance human
connection by allowing an individual to cross space or even time and walk in another’s
shoes [6, A8, A17]. Similarly, Carne y Arena by Alejandro Iñárritu is a unique dramatic
experience of which a large portion is in VR and has won a special Oscar in 2017,
indicating that there is both recognition and faith in the development of similar projects.
It places the user as an immigrant at the U.S.-Mexico border with all the hardships that
surround similar feats, diminishing the distance between the user and the immigrant
through intuition [7]. However, as producing fully immersive pieces is still resource-
heavy, the majority of IJ available to the general public is in the form of 360-degree
videos that are viewable on-screen (2D surface) or in mobile VR which provides further
technological immersiveness [A7].
Despite interest and eagerness in the potential of VR, IJ became visible as an interest
of academics only from the year 2016 onward, after both an increase in the production
of 360-videos and NYT’s initiative which helped popularize VR and the content. Fur-
ther development and better affordability and accessibility of both the technology and
content is heightening interest in related themes, both in public and academia. The do-
main seems to still be only in its inception considering its breadth and the different
possible types of content (360-video, interactive, digital reproduction, filmed, etc.) and
technologies (screen size, mobile VR, immersive (embodied) VR with all its varia-
Thus, this review aims at providing an overview of the field, to identify pitfalls and
gaps, as well as delineate possible future research avenues. It presents several key
points in the literature: methods and data, technologies and types of content in experi-
ment settings, and studied outcomes.
2 Method
This study relies on Webster and Watson’s [10] process for systematic literature re-
views. It supposes a reproducible research consisting of a rigorously defined search,
transparent inclusion criteria of the retrieved papers, and a pre-defined concept matrix
for analyzing the selected body of literature.
The search for literature was conducted during April 2019 in Scopus, one of the
largest databases of peer-reviewed publications. Exploratory searches by the authors
had been conducted two years prior with the aim of getting acquainted with the field
and terminology. This prior knowledge was used in constructing the search string,
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which was composed out of two sections: one describing journalism, and the other de-
scribing immersive. Both sections were built using multiple related terms and employ-
ing wild cards for a comprehensive search where appropriate. Thus, the following
search string was construed:
(journalis* OR news) AND (VR OR "virtual reality" OR HMD OR immers* OR em-
bod* OR 360)
A total of 796 results were retrieved, including conference papers, journal articles,
and book chapters. The first round of reviews included scanning the retrieved abstracts
of the final results, leaving 41 results. Publications were discarded due to referring to
virtual reality in the wider sense as digital environments, not being related to news or
journalism, or for only mentioning the field in passing. Although immersive news
could, additionally, entail augmented reality (AR) applications, and the search string
supported that premise, no such applications were found during the search.
Four full papers out of the 41 that were chosen for full analysis could not be accessed,
leaving 37 full manuscripts. During this stage, 13 additional publications were dis-
carded for the same exclusion criteria listed above, leaving 24 publications deemed
suitable for inclusion in this review. Finally, backward and forward reference searches
were conducted revealing 3 new manuscripts. The analysis of the final 27 results was
performed using a concept matrix pre-determined by the authors.
3 Results
The analysis was conducted using an adapted concept matrix [10] and all the results are
presented by these investigated aspects of the literature. All of the papers that were
analyzed in their entirety (N = 27) were individually coded according to the following
pre-defined bases for the matrix:
1. Publication type and year
2. Terminology used
3. Type of study and methods
4. Presented comparisons between media technologies or types of content, and
5. Studied outcomes
Whilst the categories of some of these points for investigation (1 and 3) were pre-
dictable (e.g. whether a study is empirical or non-empirical), others (2, 4, and 5) were
further defined during the analysis itself. For example, all of the outcome variables that
were found in the reviewed body of literature were recorded under Studied outcomes as
they appeared in the papers. Using this method, not solely particular pre-defined out-
comes were reviewed, but rather all that were studied in this domain and were docu-
mented in the retrieved literature.
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3.1 Emergence of a field
Before year 2017 the only published articles are from De la Peña and colleagues [A5]
which introduced immersive journalism in 2010 and a lone conference paper from 2016
(A20) which drafted the future possibilities of journalism in VR. More prolific aca-
demic study of the field started only in 2017 (n = 12) and the number of publications is
on a significant rise. During the first quarter of year 2019 only (n = 13), the number of
peer-reviewed studies had already reached the total number of those from 2018 (n =
3.2 Terminology
Table 1. Terminology found in the literature.
360-degree (video) journalism
A1, A12, A25
360-video news
360-degree VR
VR news
A3, A11, A13
VR journalism
A8, A13, A25
Immersive news
Immersive journalism
A2, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, A9, A10,
A11, A13, A14, A15, A16, A17, A18,
A19, A20, A21, A22, A23, A24, A25,
In most cases, the authors used the term immersive journalism for 360-degree videos
on screen or in mobile VR, and for immersive virtual reality applications. However,
there are inconsistencies with the terminology which might stem from and contribute
to the high granularity of the field with articles scattered in a variety of venues. There-
fore, familiarity with the used terminology should ease the cohesion of the research and
with time consolidation of the currently vague terminology. Table 1 documents the
terms found in the literature. It is worth noting that, while those containing 360 in their
name are limited to the 360-degree videos, it is not always clear what is considered
under immersive journalism, immersive news, and VR news and VR journalism. These
can, but do not necessarily, denote both immersive and mobile VR content.
Furthermore, 360-video news has only been used in conjunction with immersive news
(A3), and immersive news only in conjuction with immersive journalism (A23). Several
other studies have used different terms together with no particular pattern (A8, A11,
A13, and A25).
3.3 Types of studies and methods
All of the manuscripts were classified either as empirical (n = 17) or non-empirical (n
= 10), and according to the methods used. In the further sections of this review, only
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the results of the empirical studies are examined and presented. These are further noted
as quantitative (n = 8), qualitative (n = 6), or mixed methods (n = 3) studies.
Table 2. Types of studies and methods.
A9, A11, A19, A21, A23,
(A24), (A25), A27
A3, (A12), A14, A21
A1, A4, A6, A10, A22, A26
A12, A24, A25
A2, A5, A7, A8, A13, A15,
A16, A17, A18, A20
The majority of the quantiative studies analyzed the data using statistical inference
(i.e. hypothesis testing), and only 3 (A3, A13, and A15) presented it using solely
descriptives such as mean values. Almost all of the measurements were collected via
psychometric tests. Interestingly, one study analyzed users’ behavior using objective,
publicly available data from the streaming platform YouTube (A27).
Qualitative studies mainly investigated the content (A4, A10, A22, and A26), or
conducted interviews or focus groups with users (A6, and A10) or practicioners (A1).
3.4 Comparisons
Table 3. Treatment comparisons
no body
board VR
VR embodied
A21, A23
360, cardboard VR
A11, A25
360, screen
A24, A25
2D, mobile VR
2D, screen
No treatment
Table 3 presents identified comparisons implemented in study designs. The majority of
the labels consists of two parts, one denoting the type of content and the other referring
to the type of technology or other affordance of the application. When it comes to the
content, there are: VR digital 3D virtual environments for immersive VR; 360 360-
degree videos; 2D 2D video or fixed perspective 360-degree video; and article writ-
ten news article. The second half of the labels is as follows: embodied user is pre-
sented as inhabiting a body in the content; no body user is not presented in the content;
mobile VR different VR head-mounted displays that provide stereoscopic view using
a mobile phone; cardboard VR the simplest VR device similar to the mobile VR but
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in lower quality and needs to be held to the head; screen a common label for 2D
screens, regardless of the size and technological specifications.
Empirical studies often employed comparison of the effects of different media and/or
media technologies. The most represented comparisons employ 360-degree videos in
mobile VR on one side, and a variety of treatments on the other. The least studied in
comparable settings are immersive VR (A19, A21, and A23), as imagined immersive
journalism, and written articles (A24), as a more traditional form of journalism.
3.5 Studied outcomes
Table 4. Studied outcomes.
A19, A24
Personal involvement
Distant suffering
A9, A25
Cognition and
Attitudes on the topic
A9, A12, A24
Narrative understanding
Perceived credibility
A9, A11, A24
Expectations and experience
Intention to share
Cognitive absorption
A3, A9, A11, A19, A21,
A23, A24, A25
Body ownership
A21, A23
A21, A23
Viewing behavior
A21, A23
Online reviewing and commenting
Production and journalistic norms
A1, A4, A10, A12, A14,
For better readability of the output, the studied outcomes are loosely divided into five
categories affect, cognition and attitudes, engrossment, behavior, and production and
journalistic norms. There were coined by the authors and do not represent concrete
analytical value. On the other hand, categories in the Measure(s) column were taken
directly from the investigated literature and represent their measured outcomes.
Unsurprisingly, users’ engrossment is studied the most, with (tele)presence as the most
studied outcome, However, it is highly granulated across different media and media
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technologies, as can be seen from Section 3.4. Only one study employed a measure of
attitudes towards the topic of the content (A6), and two tracked whether users showed
interest beyond the experiment and have followed up to learn more (A21 and A23).
Finally, the category of production and journalistic norms entails studies on, for exam-
ple, use of annotations (A14) or subtitles (A12).
4 Discussion
This review is the first attempt to summarize empirical research on the topic of immer-
sive journalism, which is gaining increasing interest in academia. The field is multidis-
ciplinary and highly topical, and studies are greatly dispersed and disconnected, as can
be seen throughout this study, starting with the inconsistent terminology. it is hoped
that this review will serve as a step toward consolidating the field by representing the
state of the art and identifying gaps and points for further research.
However, it should only be taken as a stepping stone toward a more nuanced one.
Considering the speed at which the field is expanding, it is necessary that it is updated
and expanded when possible so as to provide more solid grounds for examining the
effects of immersive journalism.
4.1 Identified gaps and future directions
Already from this short review there are several issues and gaps identified in the liter-
ature. Some are minor but expected as they mostly stem from the field being novel and
multidisciplinary; others pertain to methodological drawbacks and overlooked central
concerns in immersive journalism.
1. Authors rarely define the variety of terms used, making it difficult to denote what
immersive journalism is and what it is not. Some more clearly denote it as embodied
immersive VR experiences (A5, A21, A23), but it would seem that the majority re-
fers to 360-videos commonly available to the general public. A more transparent
approach while at the same time contextualizing the research in the wider field could
aid in structuring it at this crucial time of growth.
2. Even though not limited to this field [4], quantitative data and results are not always
well and clearly presented, succumbing to various misconceptions when drawing
conclusions. It is of particular relevance here, because of the breadth of the technol-
ogies as well as content, to diligently lay out both descriptive and inferred results.
This practice would allow for meta-analyses that would additionally enable review-
ers to gather higher level implications from the studies.
3. Similarly, as seen from Table 3, there are rarely multiple studies employing same
pairs of treatments, as out of sixteen comparisons only three pairs are to an extent
comparable. Instead, it would be beneficial if treatments are replicated, while for
example using different type or topic of the stimuli. Such a practice is incremental,
but necessary for strengthening the findings.
4. Furthermore, as the VR technology is becoming more available and fully immersive
experiences gaining more popularity, it is imperative that these are investigated in a
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timely manner beside the 360-videos. On the other hand, a comparison of immersive
and traditional, written news pieces has only been found in one example (A24), re-
vealing a dearth of knowledge in how they compare to each other.
5. Only a handful of the reviewed studies investigated palpable outcomes of these im-
mersive experiences. This is particularly unexpected in the light of immersive jour-
nalism’s aspirations to engage and induce empathy, as well as the popularization and
recognition of similar content in the artistic domain through Carne y Arena [7]. The
attitudinal and behavoural effects are vastly hypothesized but rarely investigated.
Considering that empathy is a highly problematic concept [3], it might be more ben-
eficial to examine measurable outcomes such as attitudinal changes (A6) and fol-
lowing-up (see A21 and A23). Notable by their absence are longitudinal and behav-
ioral studies showing whether these possible preliminary outcomes can truly affect
an individual and the society [9].
6. Finally, the most crucial and largest gap in the reviewed empirical literature on im-
mersive journalism is the lack of scrutiny of users’ media literacy - in particular
when it comes to critical evaluations of the consumed content. Although it can be
argued that there are benefits to the emphasized individuality and the subjective ex-
perience of immersive journalism [7, 8, 9], there should also be a counterbalance
ensuring that the public is at the same time informed and vigilant. Future empirical
studies should weigh these two aspects subjectivity and objectivity in order to
obtain a more comprehensive account of the effects and ethics of immersive jour-
4.2 Limitations of the review
As with any review, there are certain drawbacks to this one that ought to be noted. With
a wide field such as immersive journalism there is no way of making certain that all
published studies are taken into account despite the best efforts in constructing the
search string. However, it is meant as a broad overview of the state of the field and its
findings rather than aiming at one particular aspect in detail. Moreover, due to the
length constraints, it was mainly focused on empirical research while leaving concep-
tual and theoretical discussions in the background. Finally, even though the number of
publications included in this review is not negligible, there are not enough comparable
studies that would enable a deeper discussion of the results and whether or not immer-
sive journalism truly is more effective in engaging users and bringing about positive
This work was partially supported by Business Finland (5479/31/2017).
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Slater, M.: Immersive Journalism: Immersive Virtual Reality for the First-Person Experi-
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A24. Sundar, S. S., Kang, J., Oprean, D.: Being There in the Midst of the Story: How Immer-
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... For example, gamification (Koivisto and Hamari, 2019), immersive virtual reality (IVR) (Bailenson, 2018) and persuasive games (Bogost, 2007;Jacobs 2020) have all been increasingly popular and are changing the ways we learn, train skills, and play. This trend has recently seeped more noticeably into the sphere of journalism by utilizing immersive media in attempts to convey content in a more engrossing way, both in terms of emotion and information (de la Peña, 2010; for a review see Bujić and Hamari, 2020b). Immersive journalism has received significant attention in recent years, with VR technologies and content reaching more users than ever before (Bujić and Hamari, 2020b). ...
... This trend has recently seeped more noticeably into the sphere of journalism by utilizing immersive media in attempts to convey content in a more engrossing way, both in terms of emotion and information (de la Peña, 2010; for a review see Bujić and Hamari, 2020b). Immersive journalism has received significant attention in recent years, with VR technologies and content reaching more users than ever before (Bujić and Hamari, 2020b). A distinct driver has been the release of various mobile VR headsets that, although not as high-end as fully immersive VR, instigated the production of 360-degree videos by large news houses (Baía Reis and Coelho, 2018). ...
... For example, gamification (Koivisto and Hamari 2019), immersive virtual reality (Bailenson 2018), and persuasive games (Bogost 2007, Jacobs 2020 have all been increasingly popular and are changing the ways we learn, train skills, and play. This trend has recently seeped more noticeably into the sphere of journalism by utilising immersive media in attempts to convey content in a more engrossing way both in terms of emotion and information (de la Peña 2010, for a review see Bujić and Hamari 2020b). Immersive journalism has received significant attention in the recent years with the VR technologies and contents reaching more users than ever before (Bujić and Hamari 2020b). ...
... This trend has recently seeped more noticeably into the sphere of journalism by utilising immersive media in attempts to convey content in a more engrossing way both in terms of emotion and information (de la Peña 2010, for a review see Bujić and Hamari 2020b). Immersive journalism has received significant attention in the recent years with the VR technologies and contents reaching more users than ever before (Bujić and Hamari 2020b). A distinct driver has been the release of various mobile VR headsets that, although not as high-end as fully immersive VR, instigated the production of 360-degree videos by large news houses (Baía Reis and Coelho 2018). ...
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Fields such as immersive journalism and VR-based media consumption are expected to holistically engross users and have a deeper emotional impact as well as internalisation of information. This between-subjects experiment (N = 87) employs a 360-degree video was presented either on mobile VR, on screen, or as a written article consisting of the transcript and video stills. The results suggest that the higher immersiveness has a more prominent effect on the emotional response and higher negative affect to predict lower cued recall memory of the presented content. Age in the range does not seem to influence the strength of the affect change but females might experience a higher change than males. This study suggest caution when creating highly emotional content. The negative emotional experience might impede memory of factual information. These implications are further applicable to other related fields, such as education and simulation trainings.
... The promise of immersive journalism lies in its aspiration to revolutionize journalism by surpassing the binary relationship of the viewer and the news by blending the two, and consequently endorsing individuals' engagement in public issues [25,41,55]. Although immersive journalism was primarily envisioned as a fully immersive VR experience that enables the embodiment of a participant in the content [9] (for a review, see e.g., [6]), content that is predominantly in the form of 360-degree videos seems to be more resource-friendly and approachable to a wider audience. These are available for viewing on 2D screens as well as in mobile VR, and therefore users experience the same content in distinctive ways depending on the platform. ...
Conference Paper
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The production of immersive media often involves 360-degree viewing on mobile or immersive VR devices, particularly in the field of immersive journalism. However, it is unclear how the different technologies used to present such media affect the experience of presence. To investigate this, a laboratory experiment was conducted with 87 participants who were assigned to one of three conditions: HMD-360, Monitor-360, or Monitor-article, representing three distinct levels of technological immersion. All three conditions represented the same base content, with high and mid-immersion featuring a panoramic 360-video and low-immersion presenting an article composed of a transcript and video stills. The study found that presence could be considered a composite of Involvement, Naturalness, Location, and Distraction. Mid- and high-immersion conditions elicited both higher Involvement and higher Distraction compared to low immersion. Furthermore, the participants’ propensity for psychological immersion maximized the effects of technological immersion, but only through the aspect of Involvement. In conclusion, the study sheds light on how different technologies used to present immersive media affect the experience of presence and suggests that higher technological immersiveness does not necessarily result in a higher reported presence.
... Beyond its use of novel immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) (Lecheler 2020), IJ is also about emotion-evoking storylines (Gynnild et al. 2020;Buji c and Hamari 2020). Evolved in accordance with an increased interest in the emotional aspects surrounding journalism, the aim of IJ was to provide access to "the feelings and emotions that accompany the news" (De la Peña et al. 2010, 292). ...
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Immersive journalism (IJ) is often assumed to be inherently emotion-inducing. Through using inclusive technology, interaction possibilities and immersive narratives, the audience should ideally experience what feels like to be in a certain situation. However, for the most part we do not know to which extent and in what form IJ influences the experience of emotions. We wanted to investigate, whether, and if so, which characteristics of IJ are related to the experience of emotions, and which role the personality trait empathy tendency plays in this respect. This is important, as the evaluation of IJ often relies on the emotion-inducing assumption thereof. Four different experiments comparing one immersive journalistic characteristic (level of inclusion, interaction possibilities, immersive narratives) to the respective non-immersive counterpart were conducted. Results indicate that while the level of inclusion and interaction possibility increase the intensity of the experience, the immersive narrative influences the valence dimension of emotions. Additionally, empathy tendency is found to be a relevant moderator for these effects. Conclusions are threefold. First, the narrative form of IJ is key; second, the analysis of IJ needs to go beyond the level of inclusion; third, including emotions when assessing IJ is fundamental to understand its impact.
... Although interest in VR has grown significantly since its inception, there is still little consensus on what the term refers to (Bujic and Hamari 2020;Høeg et al. 2021). For example, the term is often used to refer to 'immersive' technologies that utilise head-mounted displays (HMDs) (Hruby 2019;Rogers et al. 2018) or CAVEbased systems (Sahai et al. 2012), but also to more traditional desktop-and-screen systems, e.g. ...
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The use of virtual reality (VR) has seen significant recent growth and presents opportunities for use in many domain areas. The use of head-mounted displays (HMDs) also presents unique opportunities for the implementation of audio feedback congruent with head and body movements, thus matching intuitive expectations. However, the use of audio in VR is still undervalued and there is a lack of consistency within audio-centedd research in VR. To address this shortcoming and present an overview of this area of research, we conducted a scoping review (n = 121) focusing on the use of audio in HMD-based VR and its effects on user/player experience. Results show a lack of standardisation for common measures such as pleasantness and emphasize the context-specific ability of audio to influence a variety of affective, cognitive, and motivational measures, but are mixed for presence and generally lacking for social experiences and descriptive research.
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A growing number of studies in journalism research are concerned with the effects of immersive journalism (IJ) on audience perceptions and behaviors. This interest in IJ is logical, because IJ has the potential to become an impactful innovation for the industry. However, we have largely neglected the question of whether audiences want this form of emotional journalism. This study fills this gap and investigates whether people consider IJ worth their while. Using a factorial survey design, we presented a sample of 2000 German citizens with descriptions of an immersive production about protests in Belarus, in which we manipulate the use of inclusive technology (VR vs. AR vs. video), immersive narratives (first person vs. third person), agency (choice of perspective vs. no choice of perspective and control of location vs. no control), and emotionality (positive vs. negative vs. neutral tone). The analyzes reveal that an immersive narrative perspective, control and emotionality do not predict worthwhileness perceptions. However, productions that present people with inclusion and technological agency render this production more worthwhile in the eye of the individual user.
Growth in immersive journalism, involving virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies and 360° videos, has increased debate on whether such technologies can significantly transform the journalistic field. Technological firms and their agents, the technologists, who produce these digital offerings can be seen as new entrants capable of imposing their own logics to the field, but no research has focused on their voices yet to assess this impact, even as they are key drivers of this trend. This study uses Bourdieu’s field theory and in-depth interviews with 12 technologists from the world’s most prominent firms producing such technologies to examine potential influences on the principles, work experiences and skillsets of journalists. Findings indicate increasing focus on innovation and user experience, new journalistic tasks involving the conception and capturing of content to create immersive experiences and environments, and the need to acquire skills tied to story visualization and game mechanics. Significant transformation of the field however may be hindered by high costs, time constraints, and seemingly low returns on investment, but there is strong belief that increasing familiarity with augmented reality on smartphones will present a tipping point for immersive journalism, enhancing audience expectations towards agency in news consumption.
As newsrooms begin to produce more immersive stories to better engage audiences, little is known about how immersive journalism compares with traditional journalism as we know it. Defined as news that is created with virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and 360° video technologies, research has tended to focus on ways to define it, and its effects on audiences and journalists. Understanding the extent to which immersive journalism adheres to long-held news values, norms, roles, and routines in journalism is essential as part of “boundary work”, where boundaries that form the essence of journalism legitimize the profession and help journalists understand their work. This study examines 200 immersive stories from five prominent news organizations leading in their production of immersive stories, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, BBC and The Washington Post. Results indicate that immersive stories remain timely and tend to focus on what is unusual or of human interest. When it comes to sources, there is a shift away from government voices towards civil society. Notably, however, while high on displaying objectivity, there is a lack of source and process transparency in immersive stories, and the infotainment role ranks high, presenting some concerns for journalistic practice.
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استهدف البحث الكشف عن طبيعة شكل ومضمون القصص الإخبارية المصورة باستخدام تقنية360° بالمواقع الإخبارية الإلكترونية، ومدى إدراك القائم بالاتصال لماهية تقنية360º واتجاهاتهم نحو استخدامها، والكشف عن التأثيرات الإيجابية لهذا الاستخدام، ورصد التحديات التي يمكن أن تواجه استخدام تقنية360° بالمواقع الإخبارية المصرية، وذلك في إطار نظرية ثراء الوسيلة ونموذج قبول واستخدام التكنولوجيا، ومن خلال إجراء دراسة تحليلية للقصص الإخبارية المصورة بتقنية360º بالمواقع الإخبارية العالمية والعربية(موقعCNN وموقعBBC وموقعRT وموقع الجزيرة)، ودراسة ميدانية على عينة من القائمين بالاتصال بالمؤسسات الصحفية المصرية، وكذلك الخبراء الأكاديميين والمهنيين في مجال الإعلام الرقمي والتصوير، وتوصلت الدراسه إلى العديد من النتائج من أهمها: تتميز القصص المصورة بتقنية360° عن الفيديو التقليدي أنها تخلق زاوية بانورامية في جميع الاتجاهات، مما يعطي منظوراً أكثر شمولية وعمومية، فتوفر الواقعية من خلال كشف جميع الزوايا، وتعطي أبعاد المكان كله كما لو أن المتلقي زار المكان، فتجعله متعايش ومندمج مع الحدث، مما يعمل على وصول الهدف من القصة مباشرة، كما أوضحت نتائج الدراسة الميدانية ظهور تنوع في التأثيرات الإيجابية والفوائد المتعددة التي يتوقعها القائمون بالاتصال عينة الدراسة جراء استخدام تقنية360 درجة في التغطية الإخبارية، واتفق معظم القائمون بالاتصال عينة الدراسة على أن توفير التقنيات التكنولوجية التي تساعدهم على استخدام تقنية360° في مقدمة مقترحاتهم لتحقيق الاستخدام الأمثل لهذه التقنية في المستقبل، وأكد الخبراء عينة الدراسة أن السنوات المقبلة ستشهد صعود في استخدام تقنيات التصوير الحديثة كتقنية360° وصحافة الواقع الافتراضي والواقع المعزز، وعليه، هناك اتجاهاً لأن تحل الصحافة البصرية والواقع الافتراضي محل الصحافة التقليدية
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Virtual Reality (VR) has been widely applied to cultural heritage such as the reconstruction of ancient sites and artifacts. It has hardly been applied to the reprise of specific important moments in history. On the other hand immersive journalism does attempt to recreate current events in VR, but such applications typically give the viewer a disembodied non-participatory role in the scene of interest. Here we show how VR was used to reconstruct a specific historical event, where a famous photograph was brought to life, showing Lenin, the leader of the 1917 October Russian Revolution, giving a speech to Red Army recruits in Moscow 1920. We carried out a between groups experimental study with three conditions: Embodied—where the participant was first embodied as Lenin and then later in the audience watching Lenin; Included—where the participant was not embodied as Lenin but was embodied as part of the audience; and Observing—where the participant mainly viewed the scene from a disembodied third person point of view. Twenty participants were assigned to each of the three conditions in a between-groups design. We found that the level of presence was greatest in the Embodied and Included conditions, and that participants were least likely to later follow up information about the Russian Revolution in the Observing condition. Our conclusion is that if the VR setup allows for a period of embodiment as a character in the scenario then this should be employed in order to maximize the chance of participant presence and engagement with the story.
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As journalists experiment with developing immersive journalism—first-person, interactive experiences of news events—guidelines are needed to help bridge a disconnect between the requirements of journalism and the capabilities of emerging technologies. Many journalists need to better understand the fundamental concepts of immersion and the capabilities and limitations of common immersive technologies. Similarly, developers of immersive journalism works need to know the fundamentals that define journalistic professionalism and excellence and the key requirements of various types of journalistic stories. To address these gaps, we have developed a Framework for the Immersion-Journalism Intersection (FIJI). In FIJI, we have identified four domains of knowledge that intersect to define the key requirements of immersive journalism: the fundamentals of immersion, common immersive technologies, the fundamentals of journalism, and the major types of journalistic stories. Based on these key requirements, we have formally defined four types of immersive journalism that are appropriate for public dissemination. In this article, we discuss the history of immersive journalism, present the four domains and key intersection of FIJI, and provide a number of guidelines for journalists new to creating immersive experiences.
This article proposes a media and philosophical analysis of Carne y Arena (2017), an immersive mixed reality installation by Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Drawing from Chouliaraki’s notion of the “distant sufferer,” the article compares the medium specificity of television with the characteristics of mixed reality to question whether the gap between spectator and migrant can be bridged. The article analyzes how Carne y Arena positions its users not as spectators but as visitors or participants, thereby turning the “distant” sufferer into a “close and proximate” sufferer. To better understand how this immediacy effect is realized, the article introduces the concept of “intuition,” as theorized by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941). In its closing section, the article discusses the ways in which Iñárritu’s work is part of a political intervention that proposes to challenge the limits of mediation and to promote social justice through feeling, acting, and knowing otherwise.
News producers are increasingly experimenting with news in virtual reality and 360° video, which is often presented as the ultimate form of immersive journalism as it provides viewers with a first-person experience of a news event. Audiences are deemed to be more involved with the presented story, raising assumptions that they may be more engaged with the event and feel more empathic towards the subject of the story, especially in the case of foreign news, as distance is virtually narrowed. This experimental study (n = 149) assesses whether 360° international disaster news leads to a higher sense of presence, higher enjoyment, higher subjective involvement towards the topic, and increased engagement with distant suffering towards the victim. Using an existing news item produced by the Belgian public broadcaster VRT on a Syrian oil worker, a between-subject experimental study was undertaken, comparing four 360° video conditions: single viewpoint, drag-and-drop 360°, 360° with a cardboard VR device, and 360° with a head-mounted VR device. A verbal, qualitative debrief allowed for a better understanding of the results, which show that 360° video journalism leads to a higher sense of presence and higher levels of enjoyment. However, no effect on distant suffering or subjective involvement is found.
The man who works recognizes his own product in the World that has actually been transformed by his work: He recognizes himself in it, he sees in it his own human reality, in it he discovers and reveals to others the objective reality of his humanity, of the originally abstract and purely subjective idea he has of himself.Alexandre Kojève (1980 Kojève, Alexandre. 1980. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. [Google Scholar], 27) The essay critiques an aspect of the so-called post-mobile wave of technological change that claims, through the vector of virtual reality (VR), to have created an ‘empathy machine’ that will form the basis of a new journalism. Through VR devices deployed by news organisations such as the New York Times, and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, users will be so powerfully immersed in, for example, a street demonstration, or a refugee camp, that the empathy they feel may constitute a new strengthening of the fourth estate’s civic role in informing and enlightening the public, to the extent that it can go beyond subjective empathy to develop a shared basis for political participation in civil society. The essay considers these claims from the overarching context of what is called digitality. It argues that human agents are analogue agents from an analogue world. Digitality, by contrast, is an essentially alienating sphere wherein digital media cannot replicate analogue communication processes without generating gaps, voids, and ‘missing information’. It further argues, extending insights from Guy Debord, that what VR does produce is a powerful ‘integrated spectacle’ that is a pale substitute for the form of interactive experience needed for the generation of empathy. Taken together, the essay concludes that empathy, a contestable term in its common understanding to begin with, cannot be generated from a digital source. Moreover, should VR become the next dominant post-mobile technological wave as the tech giants predict, then people, users and consumers of VR products in the fourth estate news context, will be further distanced from the analogue reality of the actual world.
Immersive storytelling technologies in journalism are thought to have the power to boost viewer responses to news in ways heretofore undreamed of. However, research is scarce. This study is the first to investigate what 360-degree camera video as a means for conveying news stories might add to traditional 2D video. A one-factorial between-subjects experiment (N = 83) was conducted to investigate the effect of 360-degree news on presence, enjoyment, credibility, recognition, and understanding. The experimental group watched a news video in 360-degree format, whereas the control group viewed the same video in 2D. Results show that 360-degree video is evaluated higher in terms of presence, enjoyment, and credibility, while there are no negative effects of 360-degree video on recognition and understanding. The effects on enjoyment and credibility are mediated by presence. Although 360-degree journalism research is still in its infancy, the current study indicates that this form of news reporting has the potential to involve audiences as never before. Highlights: • 360-degree video news is evaluated more enjoyable and credible than 2D news • 360-degree video and 2D news are equally recognizable and understandable • Effects of 360-degree viewing on enjoyment and credibility are mediated by presence Keywords: immersive journalism; 360-degree video; presence; information processing; credibility; enjoyment
This study examines the current application of 360-degree VR videos in the news industry. Both the advantages and challenges of 360-degree VR videos in enhancing audience experiences and engagement are discussed. To better understand the effects of immersive technology on audience engagement, this study selects the case of The New York Times (NYT). Data were crawled from 598 videos on the NYT YouTube account for analyses. The results showed that 360-degree VR videos generally performed worse than non-VR videos in enhancing audience engagement. An interaction effect was found between video format (360-degree VR or non-VR) and content genres.
Immersive journalism in the form of virtual reality (VR) headsets and 360°-video is becoming more mainstream and is much touted for inducing greater "presence" than traditional text. But, does this presence influence psychological outcomes of reading news, such as memory for story content, perceptions of credibility, and empathy felt toward story characters? We propose that two key technological affordances of VR (modality and interactivity) are responsible for triggering three presence-related cognitive heuristics (being-there, interaction, and realism), which influence news readers' memory and their perceptions of credibility, empathy, and story-sharing intentions. We report a 3 (storytelling medium: VR vs. 360°-video vs. Text) × 2 (story: "The displaced" and "The click effect") mixed-factorial experiment, in which participants (N = 129) experienced two New York Times stories (that differed in their emotional intensity) using one of the three mediums (VR, 360°-video, Text). Participants who experienced the stories using VR and 360°-video outperformed those who read the same stories using text with pictures, not only on such presence-related outcomes as being-there, interaction, and realism, but also on perceived source credibility, story-sharing intention, and feelings of empathy. Moreover, we found that senses of being-there, interaction, and realism mediated the relationship between storytelling medium and reader perceptions of credibility, story recall, and story-sharing intention. These findings have theoretical implications for the psychology of virtual reality, and practical applications for immersive journalism in particular and interactive media in general.
This paper conceptualises immersive journalism, and discusses the implications of the technology for users who then get a first-hand experience of being at a news event through wearing a virtual reality headset. The paper surveys current approaches to 360-degree immersive journalism films that were produced by early adopters in 2015, identifying the contrasting narrative forms and style of the stories. Focus group studies add new, significant understanding to the types of narratives that work and the impact that immersive storytelling has. The focus group is a study of 18–24 year olds in the UK who are being targeted by this new technology as a way for news broadcasters to reach a new audience. This first study into immersive journalism content produces a new understanding of the impact of the narratives. It identifies the value for news producers adopting this technology, whilst raising concerns over the production of filming 360 degrees. A framework is offered for further research studies into immersive technologies and storytelling in the field of news.
Conference Paper
More and more media companies are experimenting with virtual reality (VR) news and at the same time new VR technology products are available and affordable to a wider audience. This paper examines the concept of immersiveness in journalism based on 360-video content, probing the main components that are prerequisites to an immersive experience: flow, cognitive absorption, and presence. The research was conducted using a questionnaire from the work of Jennett et al. (2008) which was adapted for 360-video news.