Tuesday 12pm, 18 September 2018


Examining 360° video in journalism and storytelling: Knowledge, emotion and normative boundaries

Tanja Aitamurto

Postdoctoral Fellow - Stanford University


360° video is becoming a more common tool in storytelling in various contexts, including journalism and advocacy. With its immersive features, 360° video holds the potential to engage the viewers. With its omnidirectional view, 360° video can provide more information than a traditional, “flat” video. Thus, 360° video can support journalism’s dual goals of informing and engaging people. Moreover, with its immersive capacities, 360° video can induce attitude change, which is the goal of advocacy for social injustice issues. Particularly strong the attitude change can be in a first person, 360° split-sphere video, which allows the viewer freely switch between two perspectives. The first part of this talk shows findings from a between-subjects experiment examining emotional impact, attitudes, knowledge gain and sense of presence in a first-person, split-sphere 360° video about gender inequality. (More about the study here).

The second part of the talk focuses on challenges that 360° video poses to journalistic norms. According to these norms, visual journalism should provide as accurate and objective information as possible to bolster journalism’s truth-telling goals. The spherical view in 360° video can support these goals. But paradoxically, users’ agency in the 360° view can create a more inaccurate picture of the story, depending on where the viewer focuses their attention in the storysphere. Moreover, journalists are willing to manipulate authentic, photorealistic capture for assumed immersion and engagement. This compromises the journalistic norms of accuracy and objectivity, and thus violates the ethical code in visual journalism. More about this study here.


Tanja Aitamurto, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar at the Crowdsourced Democracy Team at the School of Engineering at Stanford. Tanja examines, designs, and deploys new media technologies for informing, empowering, and connecting people. She studies the impact of new media technologies on people's behavior and society. These technologies include crowdsourcing, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence applied in journalism and democratic processes.

Her work has received several awards and has been published in highly-ranked academic venues such as the New Media & Society , Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) and Computer-Supported Collaborative Work and Social Computing (CSCW). She has attended meetings and given talks about her research at the White House, the United Nations, OECD, the Council of Europe and in several Parliaments and Governments.

In her projects, Tanja often collaborates on in-the-wild experiments with media organizations and local and national governments. Prior to returning to academia, Tanja worked as a journalist specializing in military and defense, reporting in countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, and Uganda. She also covered technology at VentureBeat, a Silicon Valley-based tech blog.