Journalism 360 No. 33: Ethics Guide

By on July 10, 2020

We’re excited to unveil A Guide to Immersive Ethics, the final installment in our series of guides to producing immersive journalism, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Authored by McClatchy’s Theresa Poulson and Jasyson Chesler, the guide dives into the complex topic of how to ethically tell stories while using AR, VR, 360 video and other immersive mediums.

This guide is both for those who are just entering the discussion, as well as creators who’ve already made some headway. It uses case studies to demonstrate challenges and solutions, including maintaining faithful subject representations, camera equipment appearing in 360 video and representing time and space when some elements are unknown.

Explore the guide

Theresa and Jayson will answer questions during our upcoming Insights: Emerging Tech event July 29-30. An evolution of our Journalism 360 Unconference, this name-your-own-price event will tie together conversations on immersive journalism with other trends in storytelling formats and technology.

We hope you’ll join us! Other speakers include Nonny de la Peña, CEO of Emblematic and Alex Wallace, Head of Media & Content at Verizon Media — plus we’re working on some exciting Mozilla Hubs environments for social gathering.

Insights: Emerging Tech is presented by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Journalism 360, with support from Microsoft and Viafoura.

Learn more and register →

Key ethical questions for immersive storytellers

Theresa and Jayson included thoughtful questions with the guide to prompt careful consideration of the potential effects of how we’re reporting, producing, and delivering our stories to audiences. This is just a selection, see the full list here.

  • Can the subject be captured, or will a recreation be more accurate?
  • Will a failed capture distort the truth? Photogrammetry software, for example, is accurate if the inputs are accurate, but is there a risk of photos being incomplete, over-exposed or lacking visual details?
  • How will people be captured and how might that affect how they are perceived?
  • Will the stillness of a photogrammetry capture be too lifeless or unsettling? Will clothes or hair be misrepresented by photogrammetry?
  • Is motion capture possible? If not, will stock motions not recorded from your subject distort the truth?
  • Could your approach for capturing people inadvertently dehumanize them, present them as an “other,” portray them as a villain, or accentuate or diminish features in a way that could appear like a caricature?
  • How will you talk with your sources to gain informed consent?
  • Do you need to disclose anything in an editor’s note or warn about sensitive content? Where should those notes be placed? And what kind of language should you use?
  • Is there an opportunity to show the audience how you created the experience?
  • Does the story hold up from different points of view, and fields of view? On different devices?
  • If a story is presented in AR, are you comfortable with viewers placing the story in any environment and taking photos? How might you guard against recontextualizing?

We always welcome your comments, links and other inputs to future issues. Send tips to Look for the next edition on Aug. 7.

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