Smartphone Journalism

 

Introduction to the course

This course will introduce you to mobile journalism, frequently shortened to mojo: the use of smartphones and tablet devices to gather, edit and publish news on all platforms.

“Mobile journalism is the ability for one person to shoot/edit/produce/transmit news stories in the field with a minimal amount of physical gear. While mobile journalism can involve a variety of equipment, the quintessential mobile journalist is someone producing content on a smartphone with accessories and apps designed for video production.”

Geoffrey Roth, mojo pioneer
KTSF San Francisco

A growing number of journalists are working this way, bringing pictures shot on a phone to audiences worldwide.


Adnen Chaouachi

Adnen Chaouachi reports from Tunisia for global news networks including CNN, Press TV and CGTN.

See his story (English) and listen to him talk about mobile journalism (Arabic).


Jeff Semple

Jeff Semple reports from London for the Canadian broadcaster CBC, producing reports for radio, television and online, all on his own, on an iPhone.

See Jeff explain how he works to his CBC colleagues.

“Many of our competitors here are shooting interviews, recording their stand-ups, collecting b-roll. They’ll then drive back to their newsroom, upload all that footage onto a computer, and cut it together before it’s finally ready for broadcast, possibly hours later. The iPhone allows us to do all of that – shoot and edit high-quality video and beam it back to the newsroom – without ever leaving the scene.”

Jeff Semple, CBC


Leonor Suárez

The Spanish broadcaster RTVE has trained many of its journalists in mojo – among them, journalist Leonor Suárez, who has filmed a variety of reports, from a pet photographer .

Watch Leonor’s film on the pet photographer .


Eleanor Mannion

RTÉ in Ireland is another broadcaster that has embraced mobile journalism. Eleanor Mannion filmed an entire documentary for Irish broadcaster RTE – The Collectors – on an iPhone. She edited it on a computer.  It tells the story of six people who are dedicated collectors.

“Great storytelling is what television is all about and RTÉ is always looking at new ways and new technologies to bring those stories to life.”

Adrian Lynch, Channel Controller, RTÉ One and RTÉ2

Watch The Collectors.


Björn Staschen

Björn Staschen is a staff reporter and long-time video and mobile journalist with NDR, part of Germany´s biggest public service broadcasting network ARD. He founded and leads NDR´s NextNewsLab and works as speaker, trainer and advisor.


Wytse Vellinga

Wytse Vellinga works for Dutch broadcasting company Omrop Fryslân making daily news reports with Android, iOS and Windows Phones. Omrop Fryslân serves a small regional audience in the minority Friesian language. Mobile journalism allows the station to make reports cost-effectively.


But even the largest broadcasters are making increasing use of smartphones.

They really come into their own when a large broadcast camera would attract unwanted attention, such as at a demonstration, or be intrusive – for example, in a natural disaster.

They are ideal for filming in difficult locations such as in factories, in cars, or even underground.

BBC journalists are using them as a second or even third camera during set-piece interviews, alongside a traditional broadcast camera, to give them more options during editing.

But can a device we (almost) all have in our pockets really replace a traditional reporting crew using equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars? This course will try to demonstrate the pros and cons of a mobile journalism approach and provide enough of an introduction to the equipment, approaches and techniques so that broadcasters can try it out for themselves.

Who should follow the course?

Participants are invited from all member organisations which are using, or would like to consider using, mobile phones and tablets to gather and publish news.

Participants may have a background in journalism, production (such as filming or editing) or management and may be, for example:

  • Journalists considering using the techniques themselves
  • Editors in charge of others who are using, or might use, mobile journalism techniques
  • Managers who are considering the impact of mobile journalism on their organisation’s newsgathering, reporting and production.

No prior experience of mobile journalism is required, though familiarity with using a smart phone and a computer – for example, for social media – would be very helpful.

Expected results

If you successfully complete the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the potential benefits of using mobile journalism techniques in their own organisation;
  • Understand the possible costs and challenges;
  • Use basic techniques to report in words, pictures, sound and video from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet;
  • Devise a plan for using mobile journalism in their own organisation.

Methodology

Although the participants will be dispersed and remote from the trainer, the course has been designed to be interactive, lively and engaging.

  • You will be provided with information and advice in text, pictures and video.
  • You may be asked to look at material on other web sites.
  • You may be required to watch a live lecture or demonstration using web conferencing software or ASBU’s MENOS satellite network.
  • From time to time you will be asked to answer questions online. The point of these questions is to help you reflect on the material you’ve been reading and to help you remember the key lessons. They also demonstrate that you are still actively following the course.
  • You will be asked to carry out exercises, such as taking photographs or filming video. This will almost certainly require you to leave your office and go out onto location. You may be required to upload some of your material to the internet so it can be reviewed by trainers and/or your colleagues.
  • You may be asked to take part in online discussions, such as commenting on material that has been prepared by your colleagues. Your contributions to the discussion may be assessed by a trainer and given a mark that will form part of your final score.

During the course, trainers may attempt to communicate with you using email, SMS message, email, and social networks. Please make sure you know which systems they intend to use and look out for their messages!

Author

The online course was written by Kevin Burden, who was for 20 years a radio and television reporter, presenter, producer, correspondent, editor and filmmaker with the BBC in England. He was one of the pioneers of multi-skilled working in the BBC, working across radio, television, and online. An enthusiastic amateur photographer, Kevin learned to use a television camera and then started to film and edit his own films for television. He has since produced films for charities, universities and government departments.

Nowadays, Kevin finds himself broadcasting live from events using nothing more than a smartphone, in a way that was until recently only possible for well-resourced and extremely well-funded broadcasters. He’s passionate about exploring opportunities for all to tell their own stories using video, audio and images, armed with nothing more than the phone in their pocket.

Online trainers

Each cohort of students will be allocated a mentor or online trainer to lead the group and provide feedback and support. They will assess your assignments and provide a final mark. You should contact them with any queries you have about the course.

Timing

It is possible  to study the course material and complete the exercises in your own time, as long as you meet the course deadlines. This MOJO course is FREE of charge on line till 30/06/2020.

Equipment

To take part in a course about mobile journalism you will, of course, need a mobile device – a smartphone or tablet that is capable of filming video and recording sound.

It does not need to be an expensive or top-of-the-range device such as the latest iPhone. Perfectly acceptable results can be obtained using a cheaper, generic device.

More expensive devices tend to have better lenses, which will produce better quality video.

Older and less expensive devices tend to have less powerful processors, which may reduce their capacity for editing. For example, they might only offer one video track, whereas a more powerful processor will allow two or more video tracks, as well as more sophisticated video effects and graphics.

You will need to be able to install a basic video editing app on your phone, using the Apple Store (for iPhones) or Google Play (for Android devices). There may be a small fee – typically less than US $10. In countries where credit cards are not in widespread use, this can be a problem. ASBU can advise on options.

Locate some earphones – the ones that came with your phone will be fine, or cheap replacements. You will use them to listen to video as you edit, and also to record sound.

Internet connectivity, power and memory are the great challenges of mobile journalism – so if you have a data plan, top it up if you can. If you have an external battery pack, bring it. And if you can expand the storage on your phone using a memory card (often a micro-SD card on Android phones), do it – a 1 or 2 GB card would be a good start.

Of course, if you have any special toys or gadgets – things like tripods, handles, gimbals, external microphones, or lights – feel free to use them. But they’re not really necessary.

Finally, you will need access to the internet to follow the online course. You may do this from your phone, on a tablet or laptop or a desktop computer. The trainer may ask you to post on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or Instagram. They will let you know in advance if they need you to do this.

Technical support

Technical support will be available throughout the course from ASBU Academy staff in Tunis.

Assessment

This free course on MOJO permit the automatic evaluation of the participants without delivering any certificate of success.