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Immersive journalism needs to become more objective, precise

Author  :  ZHANG CHUNHAI, ZHAO LU     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2017-08-28

In recent years, the application of virtual reality technologies in media has given rise to immersive journalism, which allows a first-person experience of events or situations described in news reports. In an interview with CSST, scholars analyzed various challenges facing this trend.


Unlike traditional journalism, this new form offers the audience an opportunity to experience an event as a witness or participant without being there and to access more details that accompany the news, said Huang Chuxin, head of the Department of Journalism under the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


This tendency, however, cannot completely replace traditional reporting in the future, noted Kuang Wenbo, a professor of journalism at Renmin University of China.


Talking about functions of immersive journalism, He Zhiwu, deputy director of the Journalism and Information Communication School at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, doubted that the virtual reality approach can give an objective and real description of news. Moreover, it may not satisfy the needs of different audiences because it is difficult to tell whether they pay attention to topics, truth or on-the-spot experience, he added.


Also, Kuang said that due to technological and capital limitations, the three-dimensional virtual environment still falls short of faithfully reproducing the scene. Live telecast and the construction of a virtual event cannot take place simultaneously, and the process is unable to offer in-depth analysis.


In addition, Huang pointed out technological and ethical challenges in this regard, saying that we still need to make breakthroughs in technological development to make immersive journalism timely. At present, immersive journalism focuses more on major events that take place in a short time frame, while it is difficult and more time-consuming to manage investigative reporting. He added that getting too close to the scene will lead to excessive dependence on the medium, which may aggravate irrational emotions of audiences.


Huang noted that immersive journalism does not preclude agenda setting, and that seemingly real scenes may contain imperceptible deceptive and manipulated elements. Thus, it is a challenge to ensure that the audience remain rational in the process, he said. 


Huang said various news platforms will compete to produce high-quality immersive journalism in the near future and realize effective communication. He suggested advancing VR technologies to realize real-time construction and precise presentation of the scene while increasing the accessibility of hardware for users.


Furthermore, Huang said it is crucial to enhance media literacy of the audience to avoid excessive reliance on the medium. He Zhiwu said it is the value of the news itself instead of the form that should be the focus when creating immersive journalism.

Editor: Yu Hui

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