Robot Reporters, Artificial Intelligence, and Mixed-Reality Storytelling

Robot reporters aren’t coming for all of your jobs just yet. But, it’s important to understand how automation is affecting journalism now. You should also start understanding how mixed-reality technology can help you tell stories in an immersive and impactful way.

Artificial Intelligence and Fake News

Instead of being scared of this inevitable innovation, you should learn how to use automation to make your job more efficient. Automated data analysis may give you more time to delve deeper and report on context.

But, you have to be careful, AI can make it much harder to tell truth from fake news. Watch this PSA comedian Jordan Peele made with BuzzFeed using Adobe After Effects and the AI face-swapping tool FakeApp.

This should serve as a reminder to always question something before you share it.

Augmented Reality Storytelling

Some TV news stations are starting to incorporate mixed-reality storytelling onto their sets to help visualize stories. Journalists should stay on top of these innovations to better learn how to tell stories in new ways. Mixed reality shouldn’t just look cool, it should be used intentionally. Take a look at how these stations strategically use augmented reality.

Augmented reality is proving to have a much greater effect on viewers. It’s literally helping save people’s lives. Journalists are constantly warning people to evacuate during hurricanes. A nine-foot storm surge doesn’t sound that bad. But, when people see what that really looks like in AR, they’re more likely to take the warning seriously.

USF’s Innovative Education department is using augmented reality to tell engaging stories like this:

360 Storytelling

Frontline took mixed-reality storytelling to the next level by incorporating 360 cameras. They published a guide for best practices that explains how mixed reality is evolving.

360 can be particularly powerful because it can be used with virtual reality headsets. When people wear these headsets, it immerses them into another world. Transporting viewers in this way has the power to dramatically increase their empathy and compassion.

Woman Using a Samsung VR Headset at SXSW by Nan Palmero (CC BY)

Here are some examples of the videos they created using 360 cameras, augmented and virtual reality.

Artificial Intelligence Reporting

Some outlets are using new technologies to program “robots” to write news articles.

When Journalism Meets Technology

Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab, spoke at the Seoul Digital Forum in Oct. 2015 about this.

Additional Resources:

The Anatomy of a Robot Journalist

Download AP’s full report: ap_insights_the_future_of_augmented_journalism

Feature image courtesy: The Weather Channel

360 Photography

Here’s an example of a 360 photo you can embed into WordPress using the shortcode:

You would replace “path-to-photo.jpg ” with your own image URL and WordPress will automatically display a 360 photo player.

Published by JeanetteAbrahamsen

I am an instructional designer and TV news instructor at the University of South Florida. My passion for innovating learning led me to pursue my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Instructional Technology. I love creating media to enhance eLearning and foster online engagement. I teach students to create multimedia stories for broadcast, web and social media platforms. I lead the Florida Focus class where students produce daily news shows that air on Tampa's PBS station. My reporting classes collaborated with Tampa's NPR station to produce award-winning stories. I am an Emmy Award-winning journalist. I produced thousands of hours of TV news in some of America's largest media markets at Tampa's NBC station, San Diego's ABC station and the San Diego Union-Tribune. I also produced immersive 360-degree virtual tours at the University of South Florida and reported for Hashtag Our Stories.

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