Reuters Institute have released a must-read report by Zillah Watson, who has led the editorial development of VR experimentation at the BBC. VR for News: The New Reality? examines ongoing developments in VR, the major challenges – both in terms of content and application, and technology – and what the future of VR might look like for news organisations around the world.
“The speed of development of VR in news has been incredible but to achieve VR’s true potential we now
need to make VR work for audiences.” says Watson.
The report includes interviews with 20 leading figures from news organisations in both the US and Europe and finds several key areas that news organisations must address as VR continues to develop:
Strategy and investment – larger organisations should be investing now to stay ahead and gain critical advantage, taking their lessons from the rapid development of the web, which left many news organisations struggling to adapt to profound technology changes. Smaller organisations could focus on low-cost 360 investments or partnerships on bigger projects to develop capacity.
Content – While technology developments will largely be in the hands of tech companies, the area news organisations can really impact is content. The focus should remain on making great experiences suited to the technology. With costs for high-quality VR still prohibitively expensive for consumers, 360 could be a good short-term solution to increasing the availability of content.
Hardware – Platforms and device manufacturers need to focus on improving hardware and common platforms to provide a frictionless user experience and affordable headsets and bandwidth. The news industry needs to work together on this to create common goals and a united front with which to lobby tech platform.
Audiences and monetisation – Audience participation in VR is the only sustainable way to monetise the technology, and for this, audiences need to be at the heart of future plans. Consumer literacy will be key to engagement, and news organisations need to show their audiences why VR is a new technology worth engaging with.
While you’re here – We have a Research Fellow opportunity at the Digital Cultures Research Centre working on a 2.5 year project investigating the intersection between Virtual Reality and non-fiction; a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Bath and UWE Bristol. Find out more and apply here.