Immersive technology; the new ‘8D audio’ fad

The opportunity to use immersive technology is being seized by journalists who are seeking new and unique ways to communicate their stories to the public.

Of the Knight Foundations’ 11 chosen projects, one that particularly stands out is the ‘Spatial and Head-Locked Stereo Audio for 360 Journalism by NPR’.

The new ‘Twitter-fad’ is to listen to ‘8D audio’ versions of songs (on Youtube) that provide a fully 360-degree soundscape through a specially-encoded stereo file that has to be experienced through headphones.

Listeners are subject to a fully immersive experience. They are able to enjoy their favourite songs on a newly interactive level.

One ‘pitfall’ of immersive technology is the cost; all 11 of the Knight Foundations’ chosen projects cost over USD$15,000.

This high expense could distinguish well established journalists (who have the money to afford such technologies) and those less established.

As a result, smaller independent journalists may not have as many opportunities to use this technology.

The growth of citizen journalism

The growth in today’s Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram led world has provided a platform for the public to publish their own news; citizen journalism.

Unlike traditional journalists, the public are under no obligation to adhere to the moral and ethical rules of a higher news corporation.

Mobile phones allow anyone to photograph, record and write content to publish online. They give a platform for news to be spread globally by citizens that traditional journalists may not have. Traditional journalists often have to have their content checked and edited before release.

Citizen journalism allows members of the public to be ‘gatekeepers’ of the news in some ways; there is almost complete freedom in whatever content they choose to post, providing potential for fake news to be spread quickly.

Citizen journalism also breaks down the ‘gatekeeping theory’ as there is no filter (gate) upon the news that is published.

Twitter’s use of ‘trending hashtags’ is an example of how the number of views that relevant tweets get can be swiftly multiplied through likes and retweets. This often proves dangerous in the case of the dispersion of ‘fake news’.

Earlier this year an incorrect tweet saying that the Harry Potter movies were coming to UK’s Netflix spread:

The question however remains; do people trust citizen journalism, unsupported by money-making news corporations, or do they trust the safety of news outlets, in assumption that they refrain from producing fictitious content?

How mobile news gathering is changing journalism

The growth of mobile news is becoming prevalent in today’s society due to decreasing levels of concentration, and increasing levels of competition between online news outlets. 

News titles or headlines are usually accompanied by a small video showing the news story to capture the viewers attention before they even have time to read the headline. 

Some news stories do not even have writing all together; they rely on short videos to relay the story. This can be seen on Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ platform (which often involves a misleading title and cleverly manipulated photo). 

The Instagram ‘Explore’ page works in a similar way. However, there is never any writing; the news tends to involve, again, a cleverly manipulated photo of a celebrity to grab the viewers attention.

The use of video is becoming extremely important in relaying news to mobile users as it provides a form of news in which the viewer does not require any effort at all to obtain it.

Mobile news is certainly adapting to decreasing attention spans regarding the news, primarily in the growth of short videos and often shorter and misleading captions/titles.

Social medias’ filter bubbles

After examining my social media news feed, it is plainly obvious that there are many filter bubbles and echo chambers in which I fall into.

Firstly, there is definitely a high coverage of celebrity news on Snapchat. The Kardashians appear a lot, along with fashion, arts and music.

There is no politically or scientifically governed content at all. 

This is rather different from Twitter, however, which carries a myriad of political, scientific, celebrity and arts news.

Perhaps it is the 140 character cut-off that allows for all types of news to be widely cast – people are arguably more likely to read due to the short summarisation of the news.

The use of hashtags also allows for the news that generally concerns the most people to be readily available to read.

Hashtags also allow people to view news that may not appear on their newsfeeds, allowing people to break out of their filter bubbles.

All social media outlets offer differing genres of news. It tends to be the websites and apps that allow people to have their say (such as Twitter) that give the most varied range of news.

Significant developments of the Reuters Digital News Report 2018

The multi-faceted nature of modern technology allows for rapid globalisation of the news amongst modern developing societies.

People are able to actively switch on mobile notifications to receive alerts for areas of the news that affect them greatest for whatever reason (e.g. spatially or occupationally) and are subsequently able to stay informed about such stories.

This level of specialisation, which is so easily accessed by the public, means that there is a faster a dispersal of personally relevant stories to relevant people.

In addition to this, people have the option to be subject to alternative and partisan news websites. This not only allows great accessibility to personalised areas of the news, but also to the controversial views not necessarily covered by mainstream outlets.

Research shows that in the past, the life span of such alternative views has been much shorter, and that people tend to rely on the safety of the mainstream media, however recent evidence has suggested a fall in the reliability of mainstream outlets, especially social media.

As a result, we see a growing dependency upon these partisan news outlets to deliver authentic, first-hand news.