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Yahoo News Kicks off Immersive News Initiative With Camp Fire AR Story (EXCLUSIVE)

Yahoo News published an augmented reality (AR) feature dubbed “Rebuilding Paradise” as part of a new partner program for immersive news content Thursday. The feature takes viewers inside the reconstruction process for a home destroyed in last year’s deadly Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.

“We want to put the user in the middle of the story,” explained Verizon Media general manager of news Alex Wallace in an interview with Variety. The video features a look at the home as it is being rebuilt, family photos, and audio from an interview with the homeowners about their decision to stay in Paradise.

In addition to this video, Yahoo News also published a 17-minute documentary together with Verizon Media’s Ryot Films titled “After the Fire” that commemorates the one-year anniversary of the Camp Fire. And in partnership with McClatchy, Yahoo News is distributing a selection of 3D assets from Paradise after the fires that will also be made available on McClatchy’s platforms.

Ryot and Verizon Media have long produced immersive content, including both documentaries and narrative pieces. Earlier this year, Yahoo News announced a partnership with Reuters, Time, USA Today, AP, McClatchy and NowThis to use this kind of immersive storytelling for news content.

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Partners will be able to make use of Verizon Media’s technology, including a holographic capture space in Ryot’s 5G Studio in Los Angeles, and Yahoo News will distribute and monetize the resulting videos. Company representatives told Variety that they’re currently in conversations with additional outlets and hope to sign deals soon.

The immersive “Rebuilding Paradise” video is a first result of this collaboration, and Wallace said that there will be many more to come. “The future of journalism is going to be XR,” she said, using the industry term for augmented and virtual reality storytelling. “It allows me to be more empathetic and more present in the story.”

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