VR reaches the next level

“2018 is the year we all need to stop making excuses and jump head first into the unknown. We must embrace these technologies and understand the future of media will not be driven by what we’re already comfortable with.”

Technology in the coming year will be overwhelming, if not scary. But if you aren’t planning to embrace the challenges, then you’re missing an opportunity to learn and connect with new audiences. So as not to overwhelm you with a laundry list of relevant tech, let’s focus on a handful I expect will disrupt our industry in 2018.

In the new year, people will get real about virtual reality. Audience adoption will grow considerably as lower-cost headsets enter the market, but so will their expectations of what true VR is. We’ll begin to see a slow shift from dedicated monoscopic 360° video pieces in exchange for high-production-value interactive experiences. These changes will drive the demand to produce high-quality content, which will be difficult to achieve, so you’ll see fewer organizations supporting the platform. Organizations that do continue to support the development of virtual reality projects will create some of the best narrative-driven experiences we’ve ever seen.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention augmented reality. This emerging platform is quickly catching up to virtual reality, but don’t expect AR to be a mainstream platform in 2018. We’ll begin to see more AR applications, but most will be limited to 3D objects appearing above a surface when a user points their phone’s camera at a printed image — I call this smoke and mirrors, as that tech has been available for years. With native integration of AR functionality into mobile devices (ARKit and ARCore), you should start seeing the breadcrumbs of the platform’s future with the introduction of goofy looking AR-enabled eyewear later in the year.

I expect someone reading this will be the first in our industry to develop a functioning AR news platform built for the new glasses. The user experience and functionality will be clunky, but the prototype will drastically change the way we think about media consumption and location-based personalization beyond the screen of a mobile phone.

In an effort to support the expanded development needs of virtual and augmented reality experiences, you’ll begin to see the creation of dedicated teams that closely resemble that of videogame development studios. These teams will be made up of a diverse group of journalists, designers, and developers. A new audience will begin to take notice as these development teams push the boundaries of interactive storytelling. It will be a challenge, but organizations that have been dedicated to supporting immersive technologies will reach a new and more connected audience.

Accessing media will be easier than ever before, thanks to visual discovery applications powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies will allow users to surface content through text, image, and facial recognition by simply aiming their phone’s camera at a point-of-interest. Relevant content will be surfaced providing the user an opportunity to explore and discover stories within their communities.

2018 is the year we all need to stop making excuses and jump head first into the unknown. We must embrace these technologies and understand the future of media will not be driven by what we’re already comfortable with. Take risks and trust your teams; their passion is infectious. Expect a few failures, but if you emerge without a few scrapes, then you’re doing it all wrong.

Ray Soto is director of emerging technologies at Gannett.

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Burt Herman   Things get real

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Jake Levine   The return to now

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Paul Ford   Go global

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions