Nav: Home

Immersive journalism in a post-truth world

June 29, 2017

In a recent Frontiers in Digital Humanities article, Eva Dominguez, a senior digital communication consultant and multimedia journalist, analyzes the rise of immersive journalism and its particular set of challenges.

In a climate of post-truth, characterized by increased individualism and decreased objectivity, immersive journalism seems to reinforce both. Immersive journalism literally puts you - the participant - center stage through aural and visual cues, allowing you to directly interact with the story. It could soon include ways of altering the narrative itself, which should presumably remain unalterably objective.

Immersive journalism doesn't keep you on the other side of events like traditional journalism does, but places you at the heart of the action through techniques like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). You - the outsider - get to step in and become an insider.

It is poised at the threshold of a media crisis where personal feelings fuel ratings and shape reality. Immersion threatens to be a point-of-no-return in the liberal's post-truth nightmare. Fact turned into fiction, forever.

But while the medium is the message, the message is an open question and not a verdict. Immersion is a timely, if thorny, innovation and could either go very wrong or very right.

Yes, immersion centers on a highly personal experience, but this experience is not under your control. There is always a little distance involved. The event - factual - happens to you, without being yours to fabricate. It is shareable and belongs to everyone.

The key, then, is in the degree of immersion. Too much of it and the truth could get lost in imagination where you're happy to make your own reality because you can.

With immersion, your ego is soothed and defused in equal measure.

This only works if the technology enhances the experience of the narrative.

Dominguez notes that "immersive technology does not guarantee narrative immersion, and this is why we need more experiments which throw light on which of the elements of narrative construction in VR settings favor it."

Images and motion seem to favor immersion, and can acquire realistic heights through techniques such as photogrammetry and videogrammetry.

But for Dominguez, immersion's trump card is its use of sound. Real recordings create a powerful emotional impact.

One example of this is Nonny de la Peña's Hunger in Los Angeles. The viewer is in a food bank line in Los Angeles when an individual suddenly falls into a diabetic coma. The 7 minutes of sound, recorded from the actual event, "contribute to creating an atmosphere."

Unchecked collective emotion - the province of fascism and other totalitarian regimes - must be watered down with facts and reason. Undergoing an immersive experience like the one above has great collective potential- so long as the viewer is able to keep a critical distance.

But there is also the possibility - gamers know it well - for viewers to interact with the virtual context.

This can affirm either critical distance or a post-truth predilection for alternative facts.

A measure of participation would counteract an overly passive, emotional experience. On the other hand, the risk of relativism is also apparent. How can we involve the uninvolved in an ethically sound way, which is to say without changing the inside facts?

Immersive journalism can isolate us, or it can bring us together. It can reaffirm the principles of objectivity, or it can encourage further relativism. All this will depend on what stories we choose to tell, how aptly we use immersive technology and how discerning we are in the degree of choice we allow immersed participants.

In short, immersive journalism can either strengthen the post-truth narrative, or counter it. It is faced with the challenge of upholding traditional journalistic values while negotiating the convolutions of an age of post-truth, for better or for worse.
-end-


Frontiers

Related Sound Articles:

A sound treatment
University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Jan Kubanek has discovered that sound waves of high frequency (ultrasound) can be emitted into a patient's brain to alter his or her state.
Cooling magnets with sound
Today, most quantum experiments are carried out with the help of light, including those in nanomechanics, where tiny objects are cooled with electromagnetic waves to such an extent that they reveal quantum properties.
how the brain distinguishes between voice and sound
Is the brain capable of distinguishing a voice from phonemes?
How blindness shapes sound processing
Adults who lost their vision at an early age have more refined auditory cortex responses to simple sounds than sighted individuals, according to new neuroimaging research published in JNeurosci.
Birds' surprising sound source
Birds, although they have larynges, use a different organ to sing.
It's a one-way street for sound waves in this new technology
Imagine being able to hear people whispering in the next room, while the raucous party in your own room is inaudible to the whisperers.
Sound changes the way rodents sense touch
Researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) report how the somatosensory cortex interprets tactile and auditory stimulation in mice and rats.
Stop -- hey, what's that sound?
In a new study, researchers were able to see where in the brain, and how quickly -- in milliseconds -- the brain's neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to processing the language-based words of the speech.
Revealing hidden information in sound waves
By essentially turning down the pitch of sound waves, University of Michigan engineering researchers have devised a way to unlock greater amounts of data from acoustic fields than ever before.
Printing with sound
Harvard University researchers have developed a new printing technology that uses sound waves to control the size of liquid droplets independent of fluid viscosity.
More Sound News and Sound Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.