What good examples of mobile reporting have you seen?
It’s hard to say because the fact that it’s mobile is not always very visible – but @documentally’s work is always interesting. The Telegraph’s use of Twitter and Audioboo during its coverage of the royal wedding was well planned, and Paul Lewis at the Guardian uses mobile technology well during his coverage of protests and other events. Generally the reporting of these events – in the UK and in the Arab Spring stories – includes lots of good examples.
Could it become a genuine niche in journalism or just offer an alternative?
Neither really – I just think it’s a tool of the job that’s particularly useful when you’re covering a moving event where you don’t have time or resources to drive a big truck there.
Do you think more newspapers and print outlets will embrace the possibilities to use mobile technology to “broadcast”?
Very much so – especially as 3G and wifi coverage expands, mobile phones become more powerful, the distribution infrastructure improves (Twitter etc.) and more journalists see how it can be done.
But broadcast is the wrong word when you’re publishing from a situation where a thousand others are doing the same. It needs to be plugged into that.
Do you think the competition that mobile reporting could offer could ever seriously rival traditional broadcast technology?
It already is. The story almost always takes priority over production considerations. We’ve seen that time and again from the July 7 bombing images to the Arab Spring footage. We’ll settle for poor production values as long as we get the story – but we won’t settle for a poor story, however beautifully produced.
Have you seen any good examples of how media orgs are encouraging their staff to adopt mobile reporting techniques?
Trinity Mirror bought a truckload of N97s and N98s and laptops for its reporters a couple years back, and encouraged them to go out, and various news organisations are giving reporters iPhones and similar kit – but that’s just kit. Trinity Mirror also invested in training, which is also useful, and you can see journalists are able to use the kit well when they need to – but as long as the time and staffing pressures remain few journalists will have the time to get out of the office.
What are the main limitations that are holding back this sector – are they technological, training related or all in the mind?
Time and staff, and the cultural habits of working to print and broadcast deadlines rather than reporting live from the scene.
What advice would you give to individual journalists thinking of embracing the opportunities mobile reporting offers?
Start simple – Twitter is a good way to get started, from simple text alerts to tweeting images, audio and video. Once you’re comfortable with tweeting from a phone, find easy ways to share images, then find a video app like Twitcaster and an audio app like Audioboo. Then it all comes down to being able to spot opportunities on the move.
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