What would it be like to be immersed in the news? That is, to not just watch it or listen to it, but to feel as though you're a part of it?
Virtual Reality (VR) now makes fully immersive (360 degree) news possible. It will happen, because anything that is possible usually does, sooner or later. But would you want it?
It strikes me that being fully immersed in, say, a riot or a bomb blast wouldn't be a heap of fun. It also strikes me that journalists would have an even greater responsibility to think about how they report the news -- and what they report.
I read a science fiction story once in which VR journalists and broadcast media had found a way to "enhance" viewers' emotions. I don't like the sound of that either.
It also strikes me that although "360 degree" reporting implies that one os getting the whole picture, how would you know if that was indeed the case? When you are in the middle of something, you can only see what's going on around you from your own position, in the middle. In VR journalism, your position would be chosen for you, by the journalist, or an editor.
But most of the time the best vantage point is not in the middle of something at all, but outside it.
VR technology conjures up some intriguing possibilities -- and a whole lot of moral or ethical questions too.
What do your students think of all this?
For a glimpse of what this brave new world may be like, have a look at Inspirational VR Journalism.
A slightly different version of this article was posted on the Writers' Know-how website.