The New York Times is experimenting with virtual reality for both storytelling and advertising.
The publisher, in partnership with Google, will distribute more than one million Google Cardboard viewers to its home delivery subscribers, in early November.
In addition Times Insider subscribers and selection of Times digital subscribers will also receive promo codes which can be redeemed for a free Google cardboard viewer.
The viewers will allow New York Times subscribers to view first virtual reality film Displaced which “captures the resilience of three extraordinary children uprooted by war”. With the help of virtual reality company Vrse, the film aims to let viewers experience what it’s like for a child caught in the global refugee crisis.
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New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet says the project is the publisher at its innovative best.
“Our Magazine team has created the first critical, serious piece of journalism using virtual reality, to shed light on one of the most dire humanitarian crises of our lifetime,” he says.
The New York Times Magazine editor in chief Jake Silverstein says virtual reality gives the viewer a “unique sense of empathic connection to people and events”.
“In the context of international reporting and conflict reporting, where our readers rely on us to bring them news and stories from remote and inaccessible places, this has huge potential,” he says.
“Through this immersive video experience, we can put our readers at the centre of the most important story of our time.”
The project is sponsored by both GE and MINI, both of whom will provide virtual reality films as part of the experience.