Call for Chapters. Immersive Journalism: Virtual Worlds and the Future of the News Industry

Call for Chapters

(/Proposed title:/) Immersive Journalism: Virtual Worlds and the Future of the News Industry

(/Published by Lexington Books, August 2023/)

Edited by Tomás Dodds (Leiden University)

Deadline for proposals: December 30th

VR, AR, and 360 videos are storytelling tools that require journalists to navigate new narratives and platforms. Immersive technologies can amplify feelings of presence for the audience, allowing for deeper emotional engagement and information recall. Therefore, immersive technologies present unique ethical and practical questions for journalism, as its production is linked to biometrical, sensory, and metadata collection. Consequently, conversations about future-proofing newsrooms for the metaverse have gained increasing academic and societal attention over the last few years. This edited book is one of the first to ask: How do immersive technologies affect newsmaking, and what impact do they have on journalistic norms, audience engagement, and data protection?

This volume will be divided into three sections. The first section looks at how the empathy-generating nature of 360-degree videos impacts journalists producing the news and which ethical norms and values media workers consider when making the news. The second section of this book delves deeper into platform infrastructures and the narratives allowed by their affordances. This book’s third and final section explores how new users’ data is made available to journalists through these technologies and presents the ethical and regulatory challenges associated with this recent phenomenon.

·Content Production & Journalistic Cultures: This book’s first section addresses how journalists use new platforms to create novel types of content. Immersive technologies allow the users to gain first-person experiences of the events presented by journalists, which radically transforms the reporters’ role in constructing news narratives. This section describes how VR technologies are transforming working cultures within newsrooms, including the diversification of professional roles and the upgrade in the materiality required to produce 360-degree and VR content. Possible questions for this section include: (1) how newsrooms are adapting their infrastructure to produce VR content, (2) how journalists are navigating professional and ethical questions surrounding the production of immersive content, and (3) reporters’ imaginaries about the future of the news industry across the world.

·Narratives & Platforms Infrastructures: Virtual reality has shown promising results in recent studies on information recall and emotional engagement. Unlike two-dimensional (2D) videos, immersive 360-degree videos using a VR headset impact the audience differently, even when the based content is similar between the two formats. This makes the role that third-party platforms play in constructing virtual worlds even more critical as journalists adapt to the affordances of these platforms to build the news. As journalists look for spaces in the metaverse, new processes of gathering, processing, and designing information emerge across newsrooms. Possible questions for this section include: (1) platforms’ affordances and their impact on news production, (2) VR languages and platform narratives for the creation of immersive content, and (3) how immersive technologies could increase the dependency between newsrooms and third-party platforms like Facebook and Google in different countries.

·Audiences Metrics & Data Protection: The material design of virtual and augmented reality technologies allows platforms and third-party companies to collect, analyze and distribute unquantifiable amounts of individual user data. VR headsets, some of which include brainwave sensors and eye-tracking technologies, allow the collection of three distinct categories of data to create virtual worlds. Firstly, physical data, such as body motion or visual attention-cueing, is collected through new generations of headsets or hand-based inputs. Secondly, biometrical data is collected through sensors that measure and record voluntary and involuntary bodily signals. Thirdly, metadata is naturally also recorded by platforms in the metaverse. Everything becomes data points for media to better understand their users, from avatars to microtransactions to friends and interactions. Possible questions for this section include: (1) what type of ethical considerations journalists have when dealing with user data, (2) how journalists are using new types of data to construct news stories, and (3) how these new categories of data impact the construction of media’s agenda.

*Please email chapter proposals of up to 500 words in length, as well as a brief author biographical information (150 words) to Tomás Dodds ((t.dodds.rojas /at/ ) – no later than Friday, December 30^th . Please indicate for which section you are proposing your chapter.

Notification of acceptance will be sent in January 2023.

After feedback, complete chapters (6000-7000 words) are due on April 24^th for editing. The book is expected to be published as a hardcover edition in August 2023.

A contract has been signed with Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group). No payment from the authors will be required.

Editor: Tomás Dodds is an Assistant Professor in Journalism and New Media at Leiden University and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He is also a researcher in the AI, Media & Democracy Lab in the Netherlands and the Artificial Intelligence and Society Hub [IA+SIC] in Chile.