Could VR in news make people too emotionally connected?

Virtual reality
Man with VR headset on, from Pixabay.

Arizona State University, Cronkite School of Journalism has started a “Location-Based VR (Virtual Reality) Data Visualization” project. It is a $30,000 project and is led by Retha Hill. The project aims to help people, mainly journalists, to easily create location-based data visualizations in a virtual reality format. Meaning the audience could explore particular neighbourhoods’ crime and education data. Done by using virtual reality footage taken in the given areas.

The editorial opportunities with this project are that it enables people to become more involved with the story. They are able to not only read the story but are able to experience it themselves, it makes the story immersive. This could help people to understand the situation a lot better, especially as 65% of the world are visual learners. It also allows for journalists to add a lot more detail.

The two main editorial pitfalls that come with this project is the expense as well as emotional connection. VR is an advanced piece of technology which is very costly. Thus it won’t be easy to start using it constantly for news stories. Journalists are already struggling with getting paid because of technological advances and citizen journalism. Meaning it will be a struggle to find the money for such an advanced project.

When it comes to emotional connection, because people will be able to experience the situation for themselves, they might become much more understanding towards the situation. They may gain bias opinions. For example, say one could follow the life of Donald Trump, seeing how harsh people are on him and the facial expressions he has, one might start to feel sorry for him and change their opinion on him. This is what journalists are strongly encouraged to avoid.