Charlie Rose on CBS’ s “60 Minutes” broadcast.
By Casey Bukro
Sean Penn told “60 Minutes”, the CBS television news magazine, that he was practicing “experiential journalism” when attempting to interview Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Penn admitted he failed. His article, based on an encounter with Guzman in a Mexican jungle and published in Rolling Stone magazine, was intended to spark a public discussion about U.S. policy on the war on drugs.
How could he succeed? When Penn actually had a chance to confront Guzman face to face, instead he asked Guzman if he has visited his mother and whether he knows Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar. These are not penetrating questions that could trigger public discourse.
What he did was not experiential journalism. He knows the phrase but he doesn’t know what it means.
American Journalism Review uses the phrase to describe “How Virtual Reality Could Depict News in 3D.” In this case, newsrooms attract young users with in-the-round video on the Oculus Rift gaming platform: “Strap them in vision-encompassing helmets and let them experience the news like a video game.”
A Nieman Journalism Lab report names experiential journalism as one of “The Five Es of Journalism in 2016.” Neiman Lab is a Harvard University project aimed at discovering where the news is headed in the Internet age.
“Journalism has always been about more than just the facts,” according to the report. “There is a place for informational news but also for experiences that immerse the audience in the narrative.” It cites the New York Times’ “Snow Fall” feature, “an attempt at using words, graphics, video and interactivity to have readers feel the story.”