Immersive Journalism and the Engaged Audience

VR headset interaction

The news media is experimenting more and more with new narrative techniques, such as 360-degree video, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as a way of making their audience feel part of a story. We are researching the added value of these new journalistic productions and their impact on the audience.

Objective

Media organisations are experimenting with a number of new storytelling techniques. They use 360-degree video, augmented reality and virtual reality to share a story with the user and enable him/her to ‘feel’ the story too. We call the act of losing oneself in a story ‘immersion’. The question is whether immersive techniques actually work and if they enhance emotional engagement with a story? If so, which consequences does this have for the provision of information to the audience?

 

Results

Via a interdisciplinair literature study, we developed a conceptual model that shows that immersive journalism is more than just technology. It is also about the amount in which users can interact with the story and the way that users are a participant or audience in the story. However, a content analysis in 200 productions within 14 countries, show us that most productions are technology-driven and almost none of them offer the possibility to interact with the story as an interactive participant.

What is the effect on the user? Via four experiments among 350 users and four focus groups, the opposite is shown of what journalists produce. Not the technology, but the user as interactive participant makes that the user feels more involved in the story and has more empathy for the topic. The story stays longer in their memory. These insights are translated into concrete tools, that can be applied in news organisations and educational programmes that are involved with immersive journalism.

For more information:

This project was nominated for a research RAAK-award 2020.

Duration

01 February 2018 - 01 February 2020

Approach

This research uses several methods. First we performed an content analysis of 200 immersive journalistic productions in 14 months. Here we tested our conceptual model. NExt we interviewed 15 makers of Immersive productions. After that we measured the effect of immersiveness on the public via four experiments in 350 participants. Here we also measured their heartbeat and skin conductance. At last we organised four focus groups.

HU researchers involved in the research

  • Yael de Haan | Professor | Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
    Yael de Haan
    • Professor
    • Research groups: Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
  • Kiki de Bruin | Researcher | Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
    Kiki de Bruin
    • PhD candidate
    • Research groups: Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
  • Nele Goutier | Researcher | Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
    Nele Goutier
    • Teacher-researcher
    • Research groups: Quality Journalism in Digital Transition

Collaboration with knowledge partners

J-lab started this project in 2018, in collaboration with researchers from the UvA and the University of Vienna and journalists from KRO-NCRV, VPRO, NOS, NTR and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. J-lab was awarded a grant from the National Coordinating Body for Practice-Based Research (Nationaal Regieorgaan Praktijkgericht Onderzoek (SIA)) for the project.

Would you like to collaborate or do you have any questions?

Yael de Haan | Professor | Quality Journalism in Digital Transition

Yael de Haan

  • Professor
  • Research group: Quality Journalism in Digital Transition