Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Here’s Chalkbeat’s vision for local education news by 2025
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Oct. 20, 2015, 10:58 a.m.
Mobile & Apps

The New York Times is sending out a million Google Cardboards to go with its upcoming VR films

Want your readers to watch your VR stuff? Give them the hardware.

The New York Times is launching a new virtual reality initiative called NYT VR, partnering with Google on the launch, and getting getting ready to release an immersive experience around the migrant crisis, the paper announced Tuesday.

More than a million home delivery subscribers will receive Google Cardboard, Google’s low-cost VR headset that mounts onto a smartphone, the weekend of November 7. (The viewer will come in a pouch attached to the delivery bag.) When they download the Times’ new, free VR app (in the Android and iOS app stores November 5), they’ll be able to watch the Times Magazine’s film “The Displaced,” which is about three children from South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. (It was produced with VR company Vrse; Vrse and the Times Magazine previously worked together on a VR project on walking in New York in April.)

The Times wasn’t shy about promoting the effort.

Google Cardboard isn’t hard to get — you can make your own, or buy one from any number of manufacturers starting around $5 — but the Times’ giveaway is an intro for a wide group of people, most of whom aren’t likely to DIY it up themselves. In addition to the home delivery giveaway, “Times Insider subscribers and a selection of Times digital subscribers” will receive email promo codes for a viewer.

The Times will release two more VR films this year and more in 2016.

“I think it’ll have a big impact on the overall rollout of VR,” Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of the magazine, told UploadVR. “The majority of people still see it as a gaming platform, so seeing it used in a really powerful and kind of classic journalistic sense is interesting [and] will really open people’s eyes.”

Other news organizations are also experimenting with VR, though the Times is the first to get hardware (however cheap and foldable) into readers’ hands. Frontline released its first VR documentary, the 11-minute “Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey,” at ONA in September; it’s available for Google Cardboard now, and will be released for Facebook’s Oculus Rift next year.

The Times wouldn’t disclose who’s covering the cost of the Google Cardboard giveaway, though the press release mentions that “sponsors GE and MINI both deliver virtual reality films as part of the experience.” The film will also be released in old-fashioned 2D on NYTimes.com.

POSTED     Oct. 20, 2015, 10:58 a.m.
SEE MORE ON Mobile & Apps
SHARE THIS STORY
   
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Here’s Chalkbeat’s vision for local education news by 2025
The network’s pitch to local funders: “By the time the school reforms reached their zenith, there was not a single local education reporter dedicated to covering them.”
The New York Times shutters NYT en Español after three years: “It did not prove financially successful”
NYT en Español’s founding editorial director called the decision “extremely short-sighted,” and many others who’d worked on the product or read and followed it expressed their disappointment.
Nonprofit news outlets aren’t relying as heavily on foundations — but journalism philanthropy continues to grow
“Nonprofit news organizations have much in common even if their scope or mission differs. Their journalistic missions are shaped largely by the gaps they are trying to fill — investigative at the state, national and global level; more general news at the local level.”