Innovation in 2017

360: Once a reader, then a viewer, now a witness.

Written by Summer Woolley

360-degree cameras are changing the way we experience news: is this a new media revolution?

The modern day journalist relies on a range of medium, media and technology to tell stories. New technologies which facilitate an ‘immersive experience’ are changing the way we, as consumers, receive news.

360-degree cameras move beyond traditional flat screened images, and instead present an opportunity to transform the way readers engage with content by allowing the reader to be placed inside the story. Once a reader, then a viewer, now a witness. The illusion that the viewer is there, allows them to invest in a moment, event or place from their desktop or mobile device.

The New York Times use 360 cameras as a tool for investigative journalism in their piece, ‘Where It’s Made: Fourth of July Fireworks’. Instead of simply informing readers, the video format allows viewers to be taken directly to the answer – placed in the story, next to the feature: the workers.

TIME Magazine have also trialled 360 technology as a means to document the 2016 US election. ‘Behind The Podium of Donald Trump’s 2017 Presidential Inauguration Speech’ places viewers in the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration. The technology allows viewers to sense the mood; the lighting, the sound; the cheering. The technology transforms this experience. 

These aren’t the only examples of media organisations experimenting with this new medium, CNN announced earlier this year that they’d created a new unit solely dedicated to virtual reality and the experimentation of 360 content.

While 360 technology still has a long way to go due to the lack of interaction and flexibility to move within the digital space. These new systems are an exciting change from the traditional information-dense news format.

The downside however, is that only when these technologies are used correctly are they effective. The focus of journalists should remain on storytelling, encapsulating the experience and reporting factual information. Considerate usage adds value and can lead to success in this competitive industry.

Featured photo by Maurizio Pesce is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

About the author

Summer Woolley