There was both a fascinating as well as disturbing story at least to me in the New York Times a few days ago about how computer animation is now being used to depict news stories. That in itself isn't new, but what is new is that the animations depict both facts as well as opinions, if not outright fantasies, of supposed journalists.
The Times article says that Next Media, a Hong Kong-based company with "gossipy newspapers" in Hong Kong and Taiwan released an animation depicting Tiger Wood's wife chasing him with a golf club. The fact that this has never been verified as ever happening doesn't seem to bother the company, and unfortunately, with good reason: their 90 second animation became a top global online video (you can find it easily on youtube.com).
The Times story says that Next Media releases about 20 animations a day of events taken from the Web and Apple Daily, Next Media's Taiwanese newspaper. It has an animation unit that works in the same building as the Apple Daily, and is fully staffed with script writers, programmers, designers and actors.
If the news story lacks facts, the Apple Daily news staff helps fill them in based on their opinion of what might have happened and these are depicted in the animation. The supposed thoughts of the people involved are also depicted in the animation.
While it is easy to dismiss this as just tabloid journalism, the betting in the world of journalism is that this approach will begin to go mainstream in the not too distant future.
William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer would have loved it.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.