By Olivia Johnson
May 9, 2016
The traditional form of journalism, newspapers, will not exist in a few years. However, for the other forms such as the digital aspect, there are a number of possibilities and realms that the field can go in. This is where modern technology comes in and can really make online journalism a vibrant and interactive space. The amount of new ways to convey messages is uncanny and really has bridged the generational gap, being able to reach an array for people from all walks of life. Everything from push alerts to 360 cameras and augmented reality have really given the audience something to look forward to when viewing the news. Also, the numerous ways the news can be distributed, from cell phone applications to videos on a tablet to crawlers on TV screens there are endless opportunities for journalists and media outlets to captures the audience’s attention. If the industry was able to capitalize on the numerous mediums being used another way than advertising then it could revitalize the entire business. Most importantly the outlets would be able to report the news more accurately and timely than previously done.
One of the ways the media industry can rebrand itself and gain some more credibility is by getting access to places that it has traditionally not been able to see easily or cheaply. This can be done through photography and videography on drones. Drones can reach heights that reporters can’t without helicopter access or paying someone that knows how to use a drone to fly. If media outlets had easier access to drones they could cover breaking news such as traffic jams or natural disasters faster and easier than they currently can. It would also be tremendously cheaper and they would be the owner of their content instead of buying footage from a third party. In addition to the price, media outlets would be able to give the public a better understanding of situations because of the proximity and the aerial view that could be obtained from using a drone. With drones the risks are minimal; permission and training are the obstacles that are preventing the wide use of drones in the industry. Once this hurdle is crossed a new form of reporting will take place. Maybe drones will fly over a fire and a journalist will do a live or voice over of the scene for web and live packages. The possibilities are endless.
Augmented reality is another possibility for the industry when reporting on the news. With augmented reality a person can be in their home or office and dually be in another reality, as opposed to being completely immersed in a fake or recorded universe. In this augmented world, a person can be taught how to fix appliances live from a plumber somewhere else or experience their children being in the room with them that are in actuality far away. It would be very interesting how the media could use this new space to incorporate the news. What if a person woke up in the morning and saw a cloud hanging over their bed to inform them that there was going to be inclement weather? What if people could experience morning show interviews with politicians or a celebrity right in their living room? This could take interactivity with news to the next level. There would no longer be a middle man of sorts when it comes to the people and the news, both would be one in a sense. HoloLens is the product that allows for this kind of experience and although it is not currently available for the masses to use. Once it is, it can be a great platform for the media to use to have interactive informational experiences for their audience. Who wouldn’t want to have a live interview in their home or know the weather as soon as they woke up in the morning or have someone demonstrate how to make a new food recipe in their kitchen while still being in the present and the comfort of their own home or office? It truly is the best of both worlds and I think the industry should capitalize on this experience for the public.
As for virtual reality, this can be used for online digital reporting and has been used by non-journalists, but could be extremely beneficial to the industry. With virtual reality, people are able to explore difference places and truly get immersed in what they are doing and where they are. This can be used for reporting because a person can be engulfed in a natural disaster such a Katrina and really get an understanding of what is happening on the ground. It is one thing for someone in New York to see the flooding that took place on the news in Dallas, but it is another thing for people to be able to wade in the water with the survivors and be able to walk into an abandoned home and empty store. This would really bring the news to life and make it more realistic for millions of people around the world. Recently, something like this was done for 9/11 by people in France and it was beneficial to new generations of people who were too young to really understand the gratitude of the event and for people that were not born yet. However, the experience had a negative effect on some people that participated in it. Some people felt that it was too real, especially people that lived through 9/11 and had first-hand experience of the devastation that it caused. They couldn’t handle an interactive virtual reenactment of what went on in the Pentagon and the Twin Towers. It to an extent traumatized them, but creators of the game did not understand prior to how such a detailed and graphic game could impact victims and their families. This is partly because they were from another country and weren’t directly impacted from the experience themselves. To them, it was probably a cool and a unique way to portray the event, but to the people that have lived through the experience they did not feel that way. If journalists could use this model not for a game, but for online use when covering anniversaries of Pearl Harbor or the killing of Osama Bin Laden they could really give people a different perspective on the event. This would also drive traffic to news sites that do not traditionally get a lot of attention from the public. In addition to that it would give the people a versatile experience and if it is too much for them they have the option to not participate or stop after a few minutes.
360 cameras are another new technology is the field. These cameras allow the user to capture images in a panorama kind of way, inclusive of a number of different angles and views. The camera gives photographers and videographers an array of different images that they would not be able to get otherwise. Journalists can use this to capture some of the world’s greatest wonders like reporting on the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. More specifically journalists that cover travel and want to give their audience a different view than what is currently on google images can use this camera as a way to do it. With the camera, the sky, the mainland, the water and the people filming can be captured. In addition to that, all the pictures can be synced to create a cohesive set of images for different perspective viewing. This camera can truly change the way people see images and if reporters can use this during their nightly reports or online or even as snippets on social media they can enhance the viewers experience and even encourage people to take a trip. The downside to these cameras is the cost. They can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands and for media outlets to spend this amount of money on a device would be a lot. In addition to the cost, having people learn how to operate the device can also be a burden. 360 cameras are not easy to use and rendering for some of the cameras can be a nightmare, however once the cost is paid and people learn how to use them it can be a wonderful asset to reporting.
Sensors can enhance the way investigative journalists report on the news. By using sensors they have more control over props they use to get information such as robots and toy cars. These devices have cameras on them and can be controlled by the person operating it using sensors. The investigative reporting industry is in a decline and if getting information for the people could be collected in a better, easier, cheaper fashion than these sensors could revitalize the industry. Other kinds of sensors like those on digital monitors can collect data that major companies can use. However, journalists could use these monitors to collect data as well. They can collect information about the people in the region that surround the monitor. Journalists can also use the data to cater to the needs of the people such as tracking what they use the monitor for and what kind of information they are interested in when it comes to news etc. The only problem with these types of sensors is that some unsuspecting users may feel that their privacy is being invaded. Especially since they are using the monitors for one reason, but the information is being collected, distributed and used is for another purpose. The legality of this is also still in question. Despite this, sensors of all kind can benefit the media industry and the people that depend on it for their news.
In recent years, there have been a number of science fiction ideas that have come true like tablets, mixed reality and sensors. These new technologies can not only be to the benefit of the people, but also to journalists. Journalists could use these technologies to make their reporting better and like the new mediums of the past like radio and television it can enhance and increase viewership. In a time where people no longer look to journalists to get their news this could bring back some of those people that have been lost along the way. It could also bring back the credibility that has been lost in the industry over the years due to a lack of accurate reporting and notable biases. It is the job of the industry to be malleable and encompass new mediums to report the news, to inform and to an extent entertain the people. The future of the media is endless if anticipated and used wisely.