Visit the project
By experimenting with this technology to put viewers at the epicenter of the worst Ebola outbreak on record, we’re exploring whether the VR journalism experience immerses our audience in this story in a way we couldn’t before.
Raney Aronson-Rath, FRONTLINE Executive Producer
In “Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey, ” the viewer is transported to the center of the devastating West African Ebola outbreak that began in 2014 and watches the disease spread across the region. The film begins in Guinea at the hollow tree once filled by bats where some believe the outbreak may have begun. From there the viewer is taken to a village in Sierra Leone and shown a map that traces the the virus’s rapid move across the region. People appear who witnessed Ebola’s deadly impact and share their stories, including the burial of a local healer that may have inadvertently caused a spike in new cases.
The short film, which launched on Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, was the first virtual reality documentary from FRONTLINE, PBS’s flagship investigative journalism series, and a collaborative project with the content studio Secret Location and Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath began working on the project and investigated other way to experiment with and push the limits of journalistic storytelling during her time as a 2014 fellow at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab.