Mobile journalism has become an integral part of being a journalist. But what is mobile journalism? That is exactly what we are out here to discuss today.
Mobile journalism is a type of digital storytelling in which a smartphone is a primary device for creating and editing images, audio, and video.
Many mobile journalists incorporate other portable devices into their workflows, such as laptops and DSLRs, but smartphones are at the heart of mobile journalism and are increasingly used by journalists for radio news and podcasts, videos for TV news and documentaries, and videos for social platforms.
Mobile journalism is distinguished by two features. For starters, it enables reporters to perform multiple production and distribution tasks with a single device.
Second, and this is what truly distinguishes smartphones, the audience has access to the means of producing content.
This enables new forms of storytelling and contributes to a more inclusive approach to journalism.
Mindset for Mobile Journalism
A smartphone, perhaps more than any other device, fosters cross-platform creativity and digital innovation.
Photos, videos, audio, and graphics can be created and edited on the phone and directly uploaded to newsroom servers, as well as online and social platforms.
You can also respond to questions from the audience and contacts through chat apps, social messaging, and email.
Journalists who own or have access to a smartphone can learn skills such as video journalism, radio journalism, podcasting, and photography without investing in expensive equipment.
This can help to break down silos between departments such as the social media desk and the video production desk in a fully’mojo’ newsroom.
Of course, your smartphone is a phone, so you can use it to schedule interviews and record phone calls.
You can get the most out of your phone as a production studio in your pocket once you understand and adopt this mindset.
Mobile Journalism Examples
In practice, how does mobile journalism look and sound? Here are the examples:
Photojournalism was forever altered in 2017 when Time Magazine published ‘Firsts,’ a series of 46 portraits of women who were pioneers in their fields.
The series was shot on an iPhone, and in this video, the Brazilian photographer behind the lens, Louisa Dorr, explains how she approached this groundbreaking project.
Smartphones have been used as a recording device by radio journalists for over a decade.
When audio editing apps became available around 2011, radio reporters could do minor edits and mixes before filing their stories, and some radio journalists, such as Neal Augustein at WTOP in the United States, abandoned larger recording devices entirely.
Nowadays, broadcast journalists can do their entire job using a phone. Dan McGarvey, a CBC reporter, works in this manner.
Dan uses a smartphone to create mobile content for radio, television, social media, and online. Check out his Soundcloud for examples of his radio journalism.
Smartphones are increasingly being used as video recording devices for television.
The BBC Academy created this side-by-side comparison of footage captured with a traditional broadcast camera and an iPhone using the Filmic Pro app in 2018 and is a great example of how far smartphone cameras have come for TV news.
Some journalists, such as the BBC’s Dougal Shaw, use a smartphone to film and edit on a desktop system such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro. In this BBC Academy blog post, he describes his workflow.
Why is Mobile Journalism Important?
Mobile journalism has numerous advantages over traditional journalism. Understanding the additional benefits of mobile journalism can help you get started on your path to becoming a mobile journalist.
Here are some of the most significant advantages of becoming a MoJo:
1. It is Reasonably Priced
When you add up the costs of all the heavy-duty equipment required to be a journalist, it can quickly become prohibitively expensive.
The ability to capture high-quality images, video and audio with your phone at no extra cost is a huge money-saver.
Even with the additional costs of supplemental apps and equipment, it is still a much less expensive way to tell a story.
2. It is Adaptable
Getting rid of all of the heavy-duty equipment, as well as the team required to operate it, means you’ll be much more flexible.
A van full of cameras and other people will not slow you down. It will be just you and your phone. You are free to move at your own pace, going wherever you want, whenever you want.
3. It’s Inspiring
Independence comes with all of that newfound flexibility and mobility. Working for yourself gives you the freedom to tell whatever story you want.
Because your phone allows you to control every aspect of production, you have the opportunity to make your voice heard.
4. It is Discrete
Reporting a story may require you to visit places where you are not welcome.
A large camera and camera crew may have difficulty gaining access to specific locations, events, or venues, but you can take your mobile phone with you almost anywhere.
5. It’s More Welcoming
The presence of large news cameras can be intimidating. If you’re attempting to interview a local or a witness, they may be less willing to do so with a large camera in their face.
Mobile phones are smaller and more familiar, and thus less intimidating, making you much more approachable to someone with whom you want to speak.
6. It’s More Secure
Journalism can be a dangerous profession. Covering a story can be dangerous, whether it’s covering a natural disaster or reporting from a war zone.
Using a mobile device allows you to be more mobile and avoid drawing attention to yourself in these riskier situations.