ARTICLE: Can immersive journalism enhance empathy?

Clube Maker Realidade Virtual by Olabi Makerspace, licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

In recent years, major news outlets have started to use the techniques and rhetoric of “immersive journalism”, writes Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws, of Volda University College, Norway. Immersive journalism builds on the premise that using virtual reality to locate viewers where events take place can enhance empathy. But can it?

The roots of immersive journalism are in the work of Nonny de la Peña. The study explores four immersive journalism projects by de la Peña, New York Times and The Guardian. The analysis of the four cases is based on a discussion of the debates that surround the concept of empathy.

The analysis reveals that some immersive journalism projects may enhance empathy. Projects “Hunger in Los Angeles” by de la Peña and “The Displaced” by New York Times seem to be getting closer to this ideal. On the other hand, the author argues, the project of immersive journalism needs to go beyond this goal and into adopting a more forceful role in shaping the future of virtual reality.

The article “Can Immersive Journalism Enhance Empathy?” was published by Digital Journalism and it can be found here (abstract public).

Picture: Clube Maker Realidade Virtual by Olabi Makerspace, licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

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