Is Virtual Reality The Future of War Reporting?

Christian Stephen explains how Ryot News is changing the future of journalism with new technology.

Global editor for Ryot News, Christian Stephen spoke with Larry recently about his view on the conflict in the Middle East and Ryot’s use of virtual reality as journalism. At age 21, Stephen has already achieved a career's worth of accomplishments. Over the last 5 years he has been documenting conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Gaza, Somalia, Central African Republic and more.

Ryot news recently introduced the first intersection of virtual reality and war reporting with its film, Welcome to Aleppo. In this game changing new medium, viewers are able to experience the front lines of conflict zones like never before. Although the technology is in its infancy, Stephen writes, “A collection of six cameras facing all directions on a tripod, placed in the areas we worked and breathed, have now brought anyone willing to take the journey with us.” Viewers are able to drag the screen as the video plays, seeing multiple angles of each shot. A woman from Aleppo narrates the film describing the city before it was bombed telling her version of the story.

Stephen explains that virtual reality provides a new and greater potential for storytelling. “We will be utilizing it in all its forms for every story we possibly can. Every bombed out house, every trench, foxhole, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, rally, protest, election, war, famine, celebration and the outer reaches of our little and enormous earth. If you’ll have us, and if you’re ready, we would be honored for you to join us in our adventures.” he writes.

Welcome to Aleppo, the first war zone in 360-degree VR gives a glimpse into the streets of Aleppo where buildings look like abandoned doll houses and signs of life are few and far between. The three minute film shows the rubble that is left in the city’s former commercial center, including footage of the area before the conflict as well. Larry asked Stephen why he chose Aleppo for his first VR film to which Stephen answered plainly, “When it came time we could actually use it, I thought if I’m going to make a story that’s as immersive as possible, by definition, it might as well be in the worst place on earth.”

You can watch the full interview below. 

-Bronte Price

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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