Global round-up: NY Times to release virtual reality film

Global round-up: NY Times to release virtual reality filmNY Times has teamed with Google for a virtual reality film project that will see over a million cardboard viewers sent to subscribers.

The New York Times has teamed up with Google for a virtual reality film project that will start with the early-November release of ‘The Displaced’, a virtual reality (VR) film that takes viewers into the lives of children uprooted by war in Syria, eastern Ukraine and South Sudan.

On the weekend of November 7, The New York Times will distribute more than a million cardboard VR viewers to subscribers, who can attach the device to a smartphone to enjoy the immersive film.

Editor of The New York Times Magazine Jake Silverstein said there was huge journalistic potential for the emerging VR technology.

“The power of VR is that it gives the viewer a unique sense of empathic connection to people and events,” Mr Silverstein said.

“Through this immersive video experience, we can put our readers at the centre of the most important story of our time.”

“The Displaced” is the first in a series of VR films planned by the media company.


Blank front page

Two local newspapers in America have published blank front pages to urge readers to support local news outlets and demonstrate what community-based coverage would be like if local mastheads close.

As part of the US’s National Newspaper Week, Ohio’s Evening Leader and Wapakoneta twice published blank front pages featuring the caption: “This is the kind of coverage you can expect if you don’t have a local newspaper”.

Deb Zewz, group publisher for both newspapers, said she had been threatening to run this kind of front page ad for years.

“I get so frustrated when readers – and especially nonreaders – complain that there’s never anything to read in the paper and use that as a reason to not subscribe,” she said.

Ethiopian bloggers cleared of terror charges

Four members of an Ethiopian blogging group have been acquitted of terror charges, after spending 18 months imprisoned for a case that rights groups condemned as an attack on press freedom.

The four were part of blogging group Zone 9 that published articles criticising government policy and had its nine-members arrested in April 2014 and accused of plotting to commit terrorist acts and attempting to incite violence.

Tom Rhodes from the Committee to Protect Journalists said the acquittal was long overdue.

“The prosecution clearly had no evidence against them,” Rhodes said.

“I hope this may be a sign that the government may ease off on the other cases still ongoing.”

One Zone 9 journalist Soleyana Gebremichael remains in exile and another, Befekadu Hailu remains in custody for the charge of inciting violence.

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