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Virtual Reality Journalism : A new way of story telling

For filmmakers, virtual reality also presents a new way to tackle issues such as police brutality

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  • A virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a virtual segregation cell
  • Rather than just watching the action, virtual reality places viewers squarely in the middle of it
  • Virtual reality is quickly emerging as a tool in a journalist’s storytelling arsenal

To capture the experience of being imprisoned in a solitary confinement cell for their readers, editors at The Guardian newspaper collaborated with producers at The Mill, a virtual reality company, to create 6×9, a virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a virtual segregation cell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1us-VbK9Ka0&feature=youtu.be

The resulting video is unnerving in its authenticity. Incorporating ambient sound and audio excerpts from interviews with former prisoners, viewers experience what is likely to be the closest encounter with solitary confinement that they will ever have, short of visiting prison themselves.

“It was an incredible experience, I was sweating and my heart was beating really fast and it was really upsetting. I found myself tearing up a little bit. … It was a very emotional, physical and mental experience,” said Emilia Petrarca, who watched 6×9 at the Tribeca Film Festival’s “Storyscapes” event in New York City.

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Storytelling tool

For journalists, virtual reality is quickly emerging as another tool in their storytelling arsenal.

“It’s about access,” said Francesca Panetta, special projects editor at The Guardian. “This is access to a space and to an environment that you wouldn’t normally have,” she added.

Rather than just watching the action, virtual reality places viewers squarely in the middle of it. News organizations such as The New York Times and USA Today are discovering it’s a powerful medium for storytelling.

“It just opens the door to another level of immersion outside of just traditional filmmaking and just creates another level of sympathy as well, and empathy for the viewer,” said Jared Vladich, visual effects producer at The Mill.

Picture of the virtual segregation cell.
Picture of the virtual segregation cell. Image source: VOA

For filmmakers, virtual reality also presents a new way to tackle issues such as police brutality.

In “Perspective 2: The Misdemeanor,” viewers experience a violent police confrontation from the perspectives of both cop and civilian.

“You see a heated topic happen from one person’s eyes, sort of build empathy for that character, and then you see it from another person’s eyes,” said Morris May, CEO of Specular Theory, the company behind the film. Filming multiple perspectives required a day’s worth of repeated takes, during which the line between reality and fiction began to blur.

“People thought this accident was actually happening, so we have extras in the film that came by with their cellphones and started filming, not even realizing that this was a film shoot because there’s no camera visible and there’s no film crew visible at all,” May said.

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Generating revenue

In addition to the tricky mechanics of filming, virtual reality productions can be cost-prohibitive.

The Guardian‘s Panetta said, “For journalism, it’s quite expensive. So for a newspaper, which is an industry that its financial model is still being questioned, it’s a very expensive medium.”

At The New York Times, editors have found that partnering with advertisers is one way to generate income on virtual reality projects.

“We think there’s a good business here. Virtual reality is a powerful way to tell stories for journalists, but it’s also become a powerful way for brands to tell their stories,” said Sam Dolnick, associate editor at the Times.

The company has partnered with clients like Tag Heuer and Mini to create virtual-reality experiences that target Times readers.

“We think there’s a potential around virtual reality becoming some kind of premium offer, and whether that’s for subscribers, a new paywall, we’re experimenting, we’re thinking about it,” Dolnick added.

The New York Times has given away more than 1 million basic Google Cardboard viewers to subscribers. A recent virtual-reality experience transported viewers to the top of One World Trade Center with National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin, for breathtaking views of New York City.

With the new era demanding more from its people,the long-term profitability of virtual reality remains to be seen, and the new medium has journalists and filmmakers pushing the boundaries of storytelling.

-by Newsgram staff with inputs from VOA

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Journalism can go even more further! This is one of the biggest discoveries journalism can have. The virtual reality should be encouraged even outside US

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15 Facts To Know About Arnab Goswami and Republic TV

. Since last year, Arnab has been running his own TV channel by the name of Republic TV which was much awaited by the viewers.

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Arnab Goswami started his career in 1994 with ‘The Telegraph’ as a journalist. Wikimedia Commons
Arnab Goswami started his career in 1994 with ‘The Telegraph’ as a journalist. Wikimedia Commons

NEW DELHI: Arnab Goswami is a well-known name, who has revolutionized the way Indian media practices journalism. Many people call him as a grammar Nazis and for some, he stands out to be an intellectual person. Arnab Goswami is a person, who is isolated and loved at the same time.

For past many years, Arnab was the front face of Times Now and was handling the role of an anchor in a live debate show. It was the time when people started following him due to his blunt questions and courageous approach. Now, since last year, Arnab has been running his own TV channel by the name of Republic TV and was much awaited by the viewers.

Let’s take a look at some of the interesting facts related to Arnab Goswami and Republic TV:

1. Arnab Goswami started his career in 1994 with ‘The Telegraph’ as a journalist. He worked there for less than a year then shifted to Delhi and joined NDTV 24X7 in TV News Broadcast. Later down the lane, Arnab joined NDTV’s core team as a news editor.

Arnab Goswami is a person, who is isolated and loved at the same time. Wikimedia Commons
Arnab Goswami is a person, who is isolated and loved at the same time. Wikimedia Commons

2. Arnab Goswami has the distinction of having a degree from Oxford University. After completing his schooling, Arnab took up BA (Hons.) in Sociology from the Hindu College of Delhi University. Then in 1994, he concluded his Masters in Social Anthropology from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. Due to his outstanding intellect, he was granted as a Felix Scholar in Oxford. Arnab was also honored with the position of Visiting D C Pavate Fellow at the International Studies Department at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University.

3. Soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Arnab came up with his first book, “Combating Terrorism: The Legal Challenge.” Here he summed up all the legal issues in framing laws against terrorists and terrorism. Other aspects included the legal solution for terrorism. Arnab also compared India’s anti-terrorism laws with those in the West, specifically the United Kingdom.

4. Arnab Goswami belongs to a political family. His father, Manoranjan Goswami is a retired army officer and a BJP member. Manoranjan has contested as a BJP candidate in the Indian general election, from Guwahati. His Paternal Grandfather, Rajani Kanta Goswami was a lawyer and Congress leader.  And his Maternal Grandfather, Gauri Sankar Bhattacharya was a communist and leader of the opposition for many years in Assam. So, we can count his attributes of political knowledge well.

Republic TV becomes the first Indian news channel to Livestream Star India’s Hotstar. Wikimedia Commons
Republic TV becomes the first Indian news channel to Livestream Star India’s Hotstar. Wikimedia Commons

5. Being a journalist, Arnab’s First Ever TV Interview was with Congress leader, Sonia Gandhi. His this interview got him accolades for bringing the otherwise reticent Sonia Gandhi for an interview on TV.

6. Arnab’s role model is a famed musician, Shri Bhupen Hazarika. He is a legend in Assam and is known for his multicultural identity. Arnab was very much fond of Hazarika songs. Once, Arnab himself went to Calcutta, just to just to experience a thrill of the singer’s deep-throated voice.

7. Arnab Goswami has posed for the cover of Good Times magazine in September 2012 edition.  Good Times is a lifestyle magazine from the Northeast and covers the lifestyle taste of different regions.

8. Arnab was always a big fan of BBC and CNN. He wanted to run in the footsteps of these renowned channels. Once, he even quoted in an interview with Good Times, “I do dream that at some time in the future, our country will have a channel like BBC or CNN which is going to be broadcast to the world and if such an opportunity arises, I would certainly like to play a role in it.”

9. According to IndiaToday’s report, Arnab Goswami has Ranked 46th in the Mighty Power List. He was chosen on the basis of his debate topics on social causes like corruption, misgovernance, and terror. On the list, he ranked ahead of Arvind Kejriwal and many others.

10. After working at Times Now for 10 years, he resigned in 2016 and started his own TV channel, Republic TV.

11. Arnab himself is the managing director and co-founder of the Republic TV which was launched in 2017. The channel’s website (republicworld.com) also went live on the same day.

Arnab is the managing director and co-founder of the Republic TV. Republic TV
Arnab is the managing director and co-founder of the Republic TV. Republic TV

12. Republic TV became the first Indian news channel to Livestream Star India’s Hotstar.

13. S. Sundaram is the CFO of Republic TV. He was the former CFO of Times Now and joined Arnab after he released the channel.

14. Interestingly, Republic TV is a FREE TO AIR channel. It means that the channel is covered in the basic channel package and cable operators have to air it for free.

15. Arnab Goswami received the Ramnath Goenka Award for Journalist of the Year in 2010.

 

In the span of almost two decades, Arnab Goswami has already added a lot of feathers to his hat. But many a time, he has also been at the receiving end of People, who criticize him for his adamant way of speaking and not letting others speak on his debate shows. Also, he is been known for passing out his personal judgments in many cases, which is certainly not a healthy journalist practice.