ApplicationAugmented Reality

How Journalists Are Using AR for Next-Level News

Here’s how news organizations are using augmented reality to enhance the coverage they provide to their readers.


News organizations are still struggling to recover from their slow adoption of the Internet in the 1990s. Will they be in the same position when it comes to AR?

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Several news organizations are blazing a trail in this area. They show how augmented reality can enhance news coverage and bring readers closer to the story than ever.

The “Old Gray Lady” Embraces AR

The New York Times is perhaps the most well-known example of a news organization using AR as part of its coverage. Readers can view select stories in augmented reality through its app. Examples include a look at Mars InSight rover and four athletes from the 2018 Olympics.

The New York Times AR app

The stories are still available online with traditional text and photos. However, the NYT recommends utilizing AR on its app to have the best experience.

“The camera can become a window into a world enhanced with digital information — adding a piece of sculpture to your bedroom or a car to your driveway. Neither actually there, but appearing to be and believably so,” Graham Roberts, director of immersive platforms storytelling, wrote in a NYT piece explaining AR. “This is fundamentally what connects augmented reality and journalism.”

To help bring readers into the AR world, the NYT provides instructions on requirements for accessing AR through its app. They also explain how to find augmented reality content within the NYTimes app.

A New Magazine Experience

Much like newspapers, magazines also face declining print sales and ad revenue. Some are looking to AR as a way to keep readers interested and offer content that they can’t find anywhere else.

Fashion magazine W pioneered this approach last year with the launch of its Beyond the Page app. The app included an interactive cover story on singer Katy Perry. It also allowed readers to go behind the scenes of Perry’s photo shoot and access special videos embedded within the cover image.

W Magazine augmented reality

“What keeps W relevant is our startup mentality,” Stefano Tonchi, the magazine’s editor in chief told Engadget. “We want to make it clear that technology for us is not just an add-on to make the magazine more exciting. It’s a key part of how readers experience this collectible, luxurious object, in a way that’s highly tactile that builds on what we’ve produced in print.”

A Growing Trend

Augmented reality journalism is just beginning to hit its stride. There looks to be more exciting developments coming in 2019. Business news site Quartz is another news organization pioneering augmented reality in its reporting.

Quartz AR app

Zachary Seward, Quartz’s chief product officer and executive editor, said many users are already using AR through Instagram and Snapchat. So, the move to add it to their news consumption will be second nature.

“We see a slew of AR apps come out in the last six to 12 months. And I’m here to argue that this time, the third go around for AR, is for real,” Seward told the ISOJ audience. “Experiencing [AR] merely requires the phone that is already in your pocket, and that in a nutshell explains what I believe is the real potential and why this is the moment for AR in our industry and in others.”

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Jenna Spinelle
the authorJenna Spinelle
Jenna Spinelle is a freelance journalist based in Pennsylvania. She loves learning about new ideas and new technologies and sharing that information with others. She holds a degree in journalism from Penn State University, and currently teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. When she's not writing or teaching, you can find her hosting and producing the Democracy Works podcast.