From “Cool Observer” to “Emotional Participant”

Authors Nele Goutier, Yael de Haan, Kiki de Bruin, Sophie Lecheler, Sanne Kruikemeier
Published in Journalism Studies
Publication date 2021
Research groups Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
Type Article


Over the past years, innovative technologies (such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR)) have become more common within news organizations. These technologies allow users to immerse themselves in a virtual world. With these types of productions, the journalist tries to engage and involve the user by introducing emotional styles, often to create empathy. This does not only demand new technological skills, but also challenges the way journalist allow emotions in journalistic productions, and what role they take in relation to the story and the user. Through fifteen in-depth interviews with immersive producers and experts in renowned news organizations across the globe, this paper examines both the motivations of journalists who produce immersive stories, and how they seek to balance traditional journalistic norms and emotionality in them. The results show that journalists believe that emotions and facts can be compatible with journalistic production. Yet, they struggle with their role in relation to the user. Immersive journalism obliges journalists to carefully reconsider their relationship with their public. In sum, this study illuminates an ongoing professional debate on the role of emotionality, user agency, and journalistic control and autonomy.

On this publication contributed

  • Yael de Haan
    Yael de Haan
    • Professor
    • Research group: Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
  • Kiki de Bruin
    Kiki de Bruin
    • PhD candidate
    • Research group: Quality Journalism in Digital Transition

Language English
Published in Journalism Studies
Year and volume 22 12
Key words immersive journalism, virtual reality, 360 degrees video, interviews, interaction, participation, agency
Digital Object Identifier 10.1080/1461670X.2021.1956364
Page range 1648-1664

Quality journalism in Digital Transition