‘I think this is a medium that can take away the filter of the journalist and let people become witnesses to their own stories,’ says Nonny de la Peña, the American journalist who invented immersive journalism. Using virtual reality immersive journalism puts people on the scene to experience news as if they were there. De la Peña used the medium amongst others to recreate a war scene in Syria involving children refugees.
‘Immersive journalism creates an empathy in people that far surpasses any other medium that we have today to tell that kind of stories,’ De la Peña says in a video by Future of Storytelling. ‘If we can make people understand how difficult these circumstances are perhaps they can actually start to think about what kind of change they too can help bring about.’
A first production De la Peña made is called Hunger in Los Angeles, which recreates the scene of a diabetic man in a long line at a food bank who collapses from low blood sugar and starts to have a seizure. Another production makes people witness the beating to death of an immigrant by border patrol agents on the US/Mexican border. When first shown at the World Economic Forum the scene of a sudden street bombing in Syria left people in tears. And that is exactly the goal of De la Peña, who told Forbes she wants to ‘inspire people to care’.