Technology 5 min read

Spatial Journalism: A Look Into the Future of Reporting

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Thanks to advancements in AR, VR, and 3D, reporters now have a new way to tell a story. It’s called spatial journalism.

Aside from AIVirtual Reality and Augmented Reality may be the most transformative technology of this age. Not only has it changed the way we live and work, but its influence also extends to how we tell our stories.

Whether we’re gaming or seeing a documentary, interactions with virtual or augmented environments can engage us and provide immersive experiences. It’s no wonder that industries are increasingly adopting these technologies.

Like the gaming industry, AR and VR can also change the modern reporting landscape.

With print media dwindling, the way we receive news is gradually changing. Blogs, news sites, and social media pages are fast becoming the primary source of news.

But, imagine experiencing the world’s event, almost first hand. That’s what spatial journalism promises.

Now you’re wondering:

What is Spatial Journalism?

Spatial journalism is a theoretical framework that involves incorporating space, place, and location into the process and practice of journalism.

It builds on existing technologies to create an immersive experience. So, it’s no surprise that AR, VR, and 3D play an essential role.

In the spring of 2012, Dr. Amy Schmitz Weiss of San Diego State University developed an early example of spatial journalism. It was the AztecCast application for mobile devices.

The app used geolocation technology to provide students with geographically relevant information. So, they could find out about events and news that are specific to any given building.

Schmitz Weiss explained:

“If they were in front of the music or science building, for example, they would have access to a list of events and other information on any given day.”

AztecCast application is a basic example of using space, place, and location to tell a story. However, current and future advancements in technologies can provide a more immersive experience.

For example, viewers will able to walk through war zones or experience space exploration, depending on the story.

By making global events accessible to everyone, spatial journalism could remove the opinion or bias of a journalist or news outlet. Users can arrive at a conclusion based on their experience.

With that said, here are other advantages that users can enjoy.

Benefits of Spatial Journalism

Here are some benefits of this immersive form of news reporting.

1. It Could Promote Media Neutrality

As humans, we can be biased, and that’s alright. However, it’s not a desirable trait in journalism.

Rather than make assumptions, journalists are supposed to present a story based on facts and reliable evidence. As it turns out, the best truth and the most reliable evidence may be to witness the event first-hand.

That’s what spatial journalism offers. Viewers will have the opportunity to experience an event as it happened and reach their conclusion.

Be that as it may, stories related through AR or VR are not entirely immune to bias. After all, the media is still narrating from a specific perspective.

However, it could take the sensationalism, ventriloquism, and other forms of media bias out of reporting.

2. Provides a Better Understanding of Events

Imagine if you could have a first-hand experience of space exploration. Not only would you see things from the astronauts’ perspective, but you could also experience the event the way they did.

An immersive form of media could provide that, and more.

It adds a new level of presence to readers. So, instead of narrating or explaining a complex phenomenon, users can experience it first-hand and get a better understanding.

War may not seem so noble when viewers have first-hand access to the battlefield.

3. Spatial Journalism as a Tool to Fight Fake News

One major downside of the shift from print media to digital is the spread of misinformation. With millions of blogs and social media pages, it’s increasingly challenging to filter news from illegitimate sources.

The Pew Research Center found that 23% of Americans have shared a fake news story, and 14% of those shared it when they knew it was fake.

However, it’s challenging to imagine fake news thriving in an immersive media. This is especially true because viewers will have first-hand access to events taking place.

Final Thoughts

Creating an immersive media experience today takes time.

Along with the technical challenges, distribution is also a significant issue. Most viewers don’t have access to the AR glasses or VR headsets necessary to be part of the experience.

In 2015, the New York Times had to give out nearly a million Google Cardboards and launch a VR app to show a 360 video.

But that could change soon. With more tech companies investing in immersive technology, more people can have access to this form of media.

Spatial journalism could usher in a new era of news reporting. Stories will become more immersive and impactful. Most importantly, they’ll leave a more lasting mark on viewers.

Read More: Negative Impact of Using VR Documentaries for Charities

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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