This paper explores the raison d’être for many documentarians and journalists; creating emotional connections with audiences and have them experience the story “as if they were there.” Until recently, mediated storytelling was far from being immersive. Audiences could be captivated by the story—even emotionally vested in the characters—but they were passive spectators, unengaged with the action viewed on cinema, television, or computer screens. Because enabling technologies for delivering an immersive experience have improved, become cheaper, smarter, and portable, these new media tools are being adopted as the next storytelling platform. Collectively referred to as “immersive media,” such technologies as 360-video, extended reality (XR), and volumetric capture are now becoming de rigueur. Initially, short 360º cinema vérité videos accompanied traditional storytelling, or were promoted as potential “empathy machines” capable of triggering a sense of connection between viewers and the people or events presented, immersive media held nascent promise for revitalizing actuality storytelling. However, difficulties with rationalizing journalistic-style to the new immersive media ecosystem, where participants can pay attention to and interact with whatever they choose within the scene, proved frustrating. It is hard to see how “cause-&-effect” storytelling envisioned by journalists or documentarians can unfold if participants can affect how they experience the story. Therefore, what is needed is a new storytelling ecology that is evolving with the new immersive media to combine aesthetics of “storyworld” immersion with content engagement that induces a state of “flow” in which participants are both immersed in and actively engaged with the storytelling.
Michael R. Ogden, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates
Stream: Digital Media and Use of New Technology in Newsgathering
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Michael R. Ogden