Future of journalism: drones, virtual reality | The Big Idea

Journalism has come a long way since the days of Murrow and Cronkite. Tomorrow's journalism will rely more on technology than ever. Some news organizations are studying drones to see how they can help with news gathering. Drones have already captured eye-popping images. Now some news organizations are studying ways they can help with news gathering. Some are already using software that replaces human journalists.

To you, this may look like a video game. To Nonny de la Peña, it's real life. This is a recreation of an actual bombing in Syria in virtual reality. You could read about it, or hear about it on the radio or watch a story about it on TV. But with virtual reality, you are sucked in.

De la Peña is a former correspondent at Newsweek, a fellow at USC and self-described tech geek. Her inner reporter is still there; she must still do plenty of reporting to keep virtual reality as real as possible. She says thousands have donned these goggles and watched her pieces. For her, virtual reality is a way to reach people who aren't reading the paper or watching TV, but who still thirst for news. (Watch a video here.)

Scott Frederick is the COO of automated insights, a company that makes software that takes data -- company earnings or sports stats -- and transforms it into news stories in milliseconds. The software takes gobbledygook that looks like this and writes stories. No humans required. The Associated Press uses it for its earnings coverage.

Some have speculated that technology is the way of the future in journalism and that journalists like me will just disappear.

Not so, says Frank Rich, who has written for the New York Post, New York Times, and now for New York Magazine. Rich says the proliferation of technology, good human reporters are more important than ever. He says that while the way we consume journalism will keep changing, we will keep thirsting for news that answers questions like "why" and "how" and "so what?"

We've already seen technology revolutionize the way news is produced and consumed. What the landscape looks like in five years is unknown. What we do know is that there will still be a constant flow of news and, therefore, a need for smart humans - yes, humans - to make sense of it.