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  • Virtual & Real: The New York Times Taps Into VR

    Unfolding the New York Times—with a nice cup of coffee on the side—is a morning ritual for many (not just New Yorkers). While it’s cool to get your daily dose of news the traditional way, there are other ways to get the news… such as actually getting inside the news, for instance.

    Recently, the revered broadsheet introduced stunning new VR content under the NYT VR banner. To coincide with the release, the paper gave away over a million free cardboard viewers to its subscribers. It released VR-based stories such as The Displaced (a film that tackled children uprooted by war) and Walking New York (which showed the making of its Walking New York cover with artist JR).

    You may call VR a gimmick, or a fad. But at the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the VR iceberg. Projects such as NYT VR show the larger potential of this iceberg.

    Machinations and Potential: Redefining the News

    Timeliness and proximity have always been key components in journalism. Think about it- minor events in Timbuktu from a month ago would hardly be of interest to a busy city dweller. Those limitations, however, can be bypassed with VR. Virtual Reality can transport users and put them right smack in the middle of the news when it happens, and (virtually) where it happens.

    Revolution and Evolution: Changing the Media

    Imagine being one of the first to witness recorded news at the dawn of film. The New York Times’ application of VR is yet another milestone in media, and we’re all here to witness it expand.

    The downside? As with traditional ways of delivering the news, journalistic biases can still surface as camera angles can still be used—or abused—to put a spin on news coverage. You know the saying– the more things change…

    Also, one aspect that could use some tweaking is the execution itself. Historically, virtual reality has often flirted with greatness, but most of the executions have failed to live up to that hype. If this isn’t addressed, the marriage between news and VR might be short-lived. Even if the New York Times delivers the most relevant, groundbreaking news through VR, it still wouldn’t make a difference if it doesn’t have an audience to reach out to.

    With the progression of affordable VR hardware in recent years, however, VR already offers a more accessible—and much more “relatable”—experience for users.

    Application: Virtual Reality Finds Practical Application

    To those who think that VR has no practical application, we say we beg to differ and offer this project as proof. The way The New York Times has used VR breathes life into the medium, making it almost unavoidable… and undeniable.

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