Last weekend New York Times readers received Google Cardboard VR viewers with their newspapers. Together with the NYT smartphone app, it offered readers the very first experience of immersive journalism. The pioneering experiment garnered mixed reaction.
Immersive journalism puts people directly in the news situation that is being reported on. For the Sunday Times print edition, the global refugee crisis became a graphic reality as people entered the lives of three children from Lebanon, South Sudan, and Ukraine via an 11-minute video called “The Displaced”.
The new experience was made super easy for subscribers. They received free cardboard VR viewers and could download the NTY VR app for free. Once the app was downloaded, the smartphone was inserted in the viewer and with the use of headphones the subscriber was ready to go.
Being a basic VR tool, the cardboard viewer didn’t produce a high-end experience. While many subscribers called it a cool an exciting way to experience news, others reported double vision and headaches.
Still, this new way of presenting the news feels like the advent of television that turned words on pages and the radio into moving images, making events come alive. As with television, virtual reality could change forever how we engage with events around the world.