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Gruppe for journalistikkforskning
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Encyclopaedia of Journalism

What is Visual Journalism? And what are the most important aspects of Virtual Reality Journalism? ViSmedia researchers Astrid Gynnild and Turo Uskali elaborate on the terms in The International Encyclopaedia of Journalism Studies, recently published online by Wiley & Son.

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The International Encyclopaedia of Journalism Studies was launched in May 2019 as a reference guide on the key concepts of journalism studies, its theories and methodologies. It is a useful resource for students, researchers, and academics, offering more than 250 entries offering an overview of the study of journalism, the news economics, ethical and legal issues, and journalism practice.

Visual Journalism

Professor Astrid Gynnild identifies Visual Journalism as an umbrella term referring to how the written or the spoken part of journalism is visually realized. Visual Journalism deals with general elements such as platform design as well as specific visual elements such as photos and videos, cartoons and animations, data visualisations, multimedia presentations and graphics.

New technological tools change established practices for how journalism is presented visually, and also sparks debates on fake news and image manipulation, and even live video manipulation, putting the news industry’s perceived role as truth-tellers under new scrutiny.

The basic idea of visual journalism is to engage and influence audience opinion and behaviour. Historically, photojournalism played the most prominent part here, but developments within graphic design and multimedia makes visual journalism an ever-changing field. Professor Gynnild guides us through the history of visual journalism, with references to significant events, like the live coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Saffron revolution in Myanmar in 2007, the Arab spring in 2010, and the recent developments with smart-phones and drones.

 

Virtual Reality Journalism

Turo Uskali and Esa Sirkkunen explain in their entry that Virtual Reality Journalism uses computer technology to create a sense of being at another location and experiencing news stories first-hand. VR journalism poses a challenge to the narrative conventions of journalism, which is usually based on stories being carefully constructed for the audience to digest. With VR journalism, users can choose in what direction they want to look and can experience the environment according to their own minds.

Virtual Reality Journalism is also called immersive journalism, and offers not only a presentation, but a sensory experience of reality. Immersion is defined as the feeling that someone has left his or hers immediate, physical world and entered a virtual environment It seeks to immerse the user inside the story by giving the uses access to the scenes and sounds, the moods and feelings, that accompany the news.

Currently, 360 videos are the most popular format, although they offer just a limited experience of presence an immersion. There are many bottlenecks for the more advanced types of VR journalism, and also many ethical questions that needs to be solved before VR journalism can become mainstream.   

In Harvey Milks words, VR can function as “an ultimate empathy machine” that can change users’ attitudes towards people in need of help. Others have criticized this stance, arguing that a feeling of presence does not necessarily lead to empathy. 

 

Link to The International Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9781118841570