Yesterday I asked – on this blog, on my Facebook page, and on Twitter – what Android phones were best for a journalism student who didn’t want to buy an iPhone or BlackBerry. The blog post comments are particularly informative on the key features to look out for, while the tweets provide a good overview of who recommends what, and why. I’ve used Storify to organise those below:
Plenty has been written about the iPhone, and plenty on the Android vs iPhone debate. But many students, having already decided to go the Android route, still don’t know which to get. So, assuming someone has decided to get an Android phone, which would you recommend – and why?
If you prefer to contribute your thoughts on Facebook, you can do so here – or tweet me @paulbradshaw (I’ll put together a Storify).
Jon Hickman reviews iPhone tripod Gymbl Pro.
Jonathan Ive didn’t design my iPhone with a pistol grip. Instead of a hard, brittle feeling, bumpy, plastic case, Jonathan Ive fashioned a fetish object wrapped in perfectly smooth flat glass. Jonathan Ive did not design the Gymbl Pro, by Youbiq.
Would Jonathan Ive use a Gymbl Pro in pistol grip mode to shoot a video?
No, he wouldn’t. Jonathan Ive would use an iPhone 4 to grab short informal videos. If he was in the field and had a chance to grab an important interview with somebody, he’d not hesitate to use his iPhone 4 in the hand. Jony would know that informal handheld shooting would add a sense of urgency or intimicay to his media file – he’d say: “There’s no need for handheld slickness, we’re over that now”. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to write a post for some time breaking down all the habits and hacks I’ve acquired over the years – so this month’s Carnival of Journalism question on ‘Hacking your journalism workflow’ gave me the perfect nudge.
Picking those habits apart is akin to an act of archaeology. What might on the surface look very complicated is simply the accumulation of small acts over several years. Those acts range from the habits themselves to creating simple shortcuts and automated systems, and learning from experience. So that’s how I’ve broken it down:
Shortcuts are such a basic part of my way of working that it’s easy to forget they’re there: bookmarks in the browser bar, for example. Or using the Chrome browser because its address bar also acts as a search bar for previous pages.
I realise I use Twitter lists as a shortcut of sorts – to zoom in on particular groups of people I’m interested in at a particular time, such as experts in a particular area, or a group of people I’m working with. Likewise, I use folders in Google Reader to periodically check on a particular field – such as data journalism – or group – such as UK journalists. Continue reading
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.
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was an ongoing problem for photographers and journalists using mobile phones who would find themselves stopped, searched, and sometimes arrested by police. After ongoing pressure and a judgement in the European Court of Human Rights, the section was finally suspended last July.
Now Amateur Photographer reports on the Metropolitan Police defending officers’ decision to stop and search a student for merely taking photographs near a school (the image above was being taken when he was approached by police). The search was done under Section 43, which “can only be enforced if a police officer ‘reasonably suspects’ a person to be a terrorist.”
Meanwhile, police are seeking new powers to replace those given under Section 44.
If you use mobile technology in your journalism, it’s worth keeping the stop and search bust card about you.
The Guardian reports on the AP photographer whose image dominated the front pages today. The following passage on how he returned to his office with a member of the public who had filmed it on his mobile phone passes by without remark:
“The adrenaline was running by now. So I turned [the flash] on and took five pictures. I realised they were important and I saw another guy shooting video on his phone.
“So I got him into a taxi and we went back to AP’s offices in Camden.”
I’ve been fiddling with the mobile location-based social networking game Foursquare for a few months now. The concept is simple: as you move around a city you ‘check in’ to locations. You can see where your friends last checked in, and you can add comments as you go. But does it have journalistic uses? I think it does. Here are just 4:
1. Finding contacts
Until recently I refrained from pressing the ‘Tell Twitter’ or ‘Tell Facebook’ buttons when I checked into a location. However, that changed when I realised what happens when you do.
In one example, David Nikel, a political candidate in Birmingham, ‘checked in’ at Birmingham New Street train station 5 minutes after I had. Although I hadn’t ‘shared’ my check in via Twitter, because Nikel did, his automatically generated tweet said that I was there too. This alerted me and led to us meeting.
2. Social capital
Foursquare plugs into your existing social networks but adds an extra layer of information. If you know that John spends a lot of time at Urban Coffee Co you can make a point to go there yourself more often, or at least have it as a potential conversation-opener.
Users can add ‘tips’ to locations – a feature which is currently underused but has potential for leads as well as…
Foursquare has already signed deals with Metro in Canada, Bravo TV and the FT. The potential is obvious: content directly relevant to your location. The big issue for Foursquare is whether it can achieve the scale that most publishers need.
How about you? Are using Foursquare or one of the other location based social networks, such as Brightkite or Gowalla – and how has it been useful?
We’re all being told that mobile is the next big thing for news, but what does it mean to have a good mobile news application? Jonathan Stray reports.
Just as an online news site is a lot more than a newspaper online, a mobile news application is a lot more than news stories on a small screen. The better iPhone news apps integrate multimedia, social features, personalization, and push notifications.
Not all apps get even the basics right. But a few are pushing the boundaries of what mobile news can be, with innovative new features such as info-graphic displays of hot stories, or integrated playlists for multimedia.
Here is my roundup of 14 iPhone news offerings. I’ve included many of the major publishers, some lesser known applications, and a few duds for comparison.
The New York Times Company
The Times doesn’t do anything new with this application, but they do everything fairly well.
The app is designed around a vertical list stories, with a headline, lede, and photo thumbnail for each. Stories are organized into standard news sections, plus the alway interesting “Most Popular.” Banner ads sometimes appear at the bottom, plus occasional interstitial ads when appear when you select a story.
The focus of the news is of course American. There’s no personalization of news content based either on interest or location, which may well prove to be a standard feature for mobile news applications. Fortunately, the app includes a search function, though it only seems to go a few days back.
Downloaded articles are available when the device is offline, which is a useful feature. Favorites stories can be saved, or shared via email, text message, Twitter, and Facebook.
The UI has a few quirks. The “downloading news” progress bar is expected, but the sometimes equally long “processing news” phase makes me wonder what the app is doing. The photos in a story very sensibly download after the text, but the scroll position jumps when the photo appears,which is hugely annoying.
There’s little innovation or differentiation here, but the experience is smooth.
All of the bases will be covered, it seems: Multimedia, social media, hyperlocal, crowdsourcing, datamashups, and news business models.