VR and Journalistic Standards

The other weekend our Sunday New York Times arrived with something extra. Attached to the usual plastic bag was a cardboard box from Google with some Velcro tabs. Once unfolded, and with an iPhone inserted, it became a virtual reality viewer. (Yes, you are reading that correctly: I went from cardboard box to virtual reality in the same sentence.) Obviously, a new age is upon us.

The Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a thoughtful piece discussing the new standards for news gathering that are necessary for virtual reality reporting. (Yes, you are reading that correctly: I just wrote “virtual reality reporting” and meant for you to take it seriously.)

The VR camera sees in 360 degrees, so there’s pretty much no way that you can direct a scene and shoot it at the time time. You have to tell your subjects what to do and then get out of the way. The technical demands of the medium mean that you have to get a lot more Hollywood than the “fly on the wall” technique that has long …

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