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An ethical reality check for virtual reality journalism

Virtual reality journalism is with us to stay, and will become even more realistic and immersive as technology improves. The AP’s standard’s editor, Tom Kent, looks at the ethical challenges.

by Nick Tjaardstra nick.tjaardstra@wan-ifra.org | September 1, 2015

Already, virtual reality headsets and vivid sound tracks can put a viewer into stunning, 360-degree scenes of a bombed-out town in Syria. They can drop him onto a dark streetin Sanford, Florida, as George Zimmerman surveils Trayvon Martin.

It’s only a matter of time until VR simulation looks more and more like the actual event. The slightly chubby, Lego-like characters that populate some of today’s VR will likely begin to look much more like the actual newsmakers — perhaps indistinguishably so.

The power of VR transforms the news viewer’s experience from just learning about events to being in them. It has the potential to attract young viewers to the news as never before.

Before the technology gallops any further, it’s time for an ethical reality check. How real is virtual reality intended to be? Where’s the line between actual event and the producer’s artistic license? Is VR journalism supposed to be the event itself, an artist’s conception of the event or something akin to a historical novel, “based on a true story”?

Read the full blog from Tom Kent here. 

Photo credit: AP

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