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VR in the newsroom: Don’t wait too long, don’t spend too much

The headline says it all: a low-cost investment in 360 video may prove to be worth it, even as newsrooms continue to shrink and resources are spread thin.

The author gives great examples of the power of VR and 360 video, including some reasons to be both excited and cautious. He also gives five reasons to get in the game:

  1. VR productions in 2016 are missing storytelling. Where do you find storytellers? In Hollywood, in the gaming industry and in (digital) newsrooms. Now’s the time for journalists to practise VR storytelling methods if they don’t want journalism expelled from the VR universe by 2020.

  2. Experimentation is one thing, sustainability is another. As many news organisations are no longer profitable, the only way to begin production is to work with brands or foundations and to integrate — from the beginning—a monetisation and value chain strategy for VR.

  3. Early adopters are not always the final winners, but in this case, plan for a learning curve. An advantage of VR is that you can start with very small teams, even with one producer for quality 360 videos. News organizations can outsource some aspects of the production for their first VR pieces, as did the New York Times, but should swiftly aim to build their own teams: you need to learn now.

  4. Don’t invest in hardware above $1,500: prices are decreasing every six months as quality and simplicity are improving. Just rent the hardware you need and work with suppliers. You will create a profitable ecosystem for all parties.

  5. Define a one-year strategy and collaborate to avoid one-offs. As you need to create an audience for your VR products, always plan the next step. Don’t hesitate to cooperate with other news organisations as they have the same interest as you in developing this specific audience: you are allies, not competitors.