FINESSE: Foundations for Immersive Non-Fiction Narrative as Embodied/Situated Simulation Experiences -- A Conceptual Framework for Immersive Journalism Design




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Immersive journalism is a term used to describe news presentations that use Extended Reality (XR) technologies that blend human-computer interactivity with real and virtual environments in order to create a first-person, experiential feeling of being present in newsworthy places and events. The emergence of XR technologies – hardware systems and software designed to augment, mix or extend virtuality into and with reality – has sparked growing interest in and experimentation with immersive journalism presentations. As a result, some journalists are shoehorning old design practices and techniques into a new medium, failing to fully leverage how interactive immersive media can potentially engage both the audience’s imagination and the body in ways that passive media do not. The objective of this dissertation is to identify and define a framework for foundational concepts that together provide a comprehensive understanding of what this form of news presentation can add to journalism – both in its current form and in future possibilities. The conceptual framework proposed is called FINESSE: Foundations for Immersive Non-Fiction Narrative as Embodied/Situated Simulation Experiences. The framework integrates key concepts from four domains – journalism, immersion, narrative and embodied/situated cognition theory – and offers technology and content-creation guidelines for the types of journalistic production – such as investigative or explanatory stories – that best leverage immersive, interactive media. At its foundation, the framework identifies the professional journalism principals, practices and ethics that have been demonstrated to be consistent throughout time and cultures but which must also evolve to address the specifics of new emerging technologies – requiring a conceptual shift away from news presentations that tell or show and towards a continuum of presence, of experiencing information that communicates phenomenon in ways similar to how people learn through daily interactions with the world. The framework further demonstrates how concepts from each of the four foundations, when integrated, can build upward as a pyramid of requirements to support the audience’s sense of presence in newsworthy events. Conceptual intersections between journalism practices, technological system design, interactive narrative requirements and concepts from embodied and situated cognition theory are identified to demonstrate how they mutually support levels of embodied user agency that passive media do not. The FINESSE framework contributes to the field of immersive journalism by discussing both conceptual design strategies and development techniques that can contribute to immersing audiences as an active participant in a simulated experience of the news.



Augmented reality, Mixed reality, Virtual reality in mass media, Journalism, Concentrated study, Cognition


©2019 Gary M. Hardee. All Rights Reserved.