Virtual reality may not be appropriate for some journalistic purposes because of the need to stage and arrange scenes

You might have heard: NPR senior vice president of news Mike Oreskes tells staff in a memo on virtual reality, “Our stories can’t be virtually true. They must be fully real” (NPR) and The New York Times distributed more than a million cardboard virtual reality viewers for the release of its first virtual reality film, “The Displaced”

But did you know: To produce virtual reality, staging of scenes is sometimes necessary, a fact New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan says may make VR unsuitable for some journalistic purposes. While it’s not meant to trick the viewer, Sullivan says NYT is considering how to handle disclosure about the VR production process in its future films. Sullivan writes: “Transparency can’t solve every problem, but it’s an absolute necessity at this stage. So is recognizing that virtual reality isn’t appropriate at all for some journalistic purposes. If The Times is going to help lead the way in using this new technology, it should do the same for grappling with the new ethical considerations.”

+ “[Virtual reality] can significantly change the way a person looks at a story, since they are more likely to feel as though they are part of it, rather than just a passive observer. Obviously, this kind of empathy can be a tremendously powerful tool. But it can also pose a risk to the traditional journalistic perspective of objectivity.” (Fortune)