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Guardian creates in-house virtual reality team

By Freddy Mayhew

Guardian News and Media has created an in-house virtual reality team, becoming one of the first UK news media publishers to invest dedicated resources in the emerging technology.

The team of five editorial staff will be led by Francesca Panetta as executive editor, virtual reality, and Adam Foley as commercial strategy director, who will focus on collaborations with advertisers.

The company said the pair would be supported by a “dedicated team who will produce an ongoing series of innovative and thought-provoking experiential projects”.

The Guardian made its first foray into virtual reality in April with 6×9 (pictured), which gave viewers an insight into solitary confinement by putting them inside a virtual US prison cell.

A handful of other news outlets, most prominently the BBC, are actively creating virtual reality experiences as the technology comes to the fore.

The Guardian, which is also experimenting with a Facebook chatbot, said: “The new team demonstrates an ongoing commitment to digital innovation in journalism and working with emerging technologies to create immersive and impactful storytelling.”

It added the team was a further development in its strategy to “deepen the collaboration” between digital, editorial and design teams.

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Panetta said: “Virtual reality and interactive content offer an extra dimension to storytelling in journalism and we’re thrilled to have been able to create a team that is truly dedicated to projects of this nature.

“The reaction from our audiences to 6×9 – our first virtual reality project – was fantastic, and we look forward to being able to bring them closer to our journalism through the medium of virtual reality over the coming months and years.”

Foley added: “Now that the Guardian has an in-house virtual reality team we’re excited to be able to work with brands to harness this new technology, not only to support some of the exciting projects that we have coming up but also to explore the new possibilities it provides.

“As more people gain access to virtual reality, it becomes more important for media owners and advertisers to invest in their own presence on the platform and bring their brand to life.”

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