Mobile Journalism

MOBILE JOURNALISM

I’ve accidentally stumbled into mobile journalism.

I didn’t  notice I was already doing it and I didn’t know that there was a name for it and a whole community and conference dedicated to it.

For me, it started around 2012 when I got really into Instagram while experiencing the incredible sights as I lived in Pakistan reporting on news – I’d take tonnes of pictures and share them online.

Later I used my iPhone as a voice recorder while researching my documentary and while interviewing subjects for my LGBT Pakistan story for Vice News.

Then last year as I was lamenting the cost of a new video camera to reboot my video journalism work and I started reading about Mobile Journalism. I’d always admired the quality of pictures and video on the iPhone and started to wonder if I needed to buy a new video camera for work at all.

Finally there was a deciding incident. I’d humped my regular camera kit, tripod, mic kit and lights half way across London for a not-great-paid charity gig. I seriously began to wonder if I could ‘just’ film these things on my phone.

At  this point, I had that thought that I think a lot of people have had: That’s cheating!

But why is it?  The camera quality on the iPhone as some other smartphones are broadcast standard plus if you need bells and whistles there are plenty of accessories out there.

And you do need a few. The very basics I’d suggest are  microphone & tripod but those are more for production value than to make up for any deficiencies in a smart phone camera. but more on that in another post.

A bit of online research and I discovered a vast array of MoJo accessories that allayed my main concerns about storage, sound and wobbly video so I ordered some basic bits of kit and am pleased beyond reason that most of it fits in the palm of my hand!

Here’s the full list of what I got and I’m using headphones and battery charger I already have.

Why Now is the Time to Train in Video Making

 

I first started video journalism around 2008 with the AP and it’s no surprise to me that the medium is becoming more popular.

The statistics say something like 80-90% of everything we see on the internet will be video in a couple of years – just think about your own internet and social media usage, rings true right? It’s certainly true for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg says that in a few short years, the social media giant will be mostly video. On top of that 5G is coming our way very soon, meaning near instantaneous downloads.  And then think about how journalism as an industry is continuing to change beyond all recognition. Where do you consume it? Not newspapers, most likely.

If you’re a journalist these days, you can’t have failed to have noticed how your sector is changing.  Perhaps your news organisation is asking you to start capturing video on your phone while your out reporting or perhaps you want to future-proof your career.

That’s why after a stint as an onscreen reporter, I’ve decided to resurrect my video journalism skills. And it’s exciting!

Things used to be a hell of lot harder and more time consuming when I started out.  I recall my early days in TV news production in the 90s when the studio camera man tried to get us recent graduate recruits interested light and lenses and  when a two-man crew (and it was 99% men) with a big heavy camera and and chunky sound kit were standard for going out on news shoots with a reporter in tow. That all seems pretty archaic now.

It wasn’t til about 2009 when I first saw a reporter film his own piece to camera, squatting in front of the lens because he was so tall – I thought it was ridiculous.

More fool me it transpired, because that’s the ways things are moving in journalism. What’s more you can now affordably buy everything you need to shoot and edit a video news package and even broadcast live. And on top of that the technology is smaller and lighter than ever before leading to the growth in what’s called MoJo or Mobile Journalism (see my last post).

Best of all it’s getting easier – you really don’t need to be a tech nerd to do this stuff and the software is far more intuitive and user friendly than it used to be. Take iMovie for example which is basically a simpler version of industry standard Final Cut Pro X. (Realising that btw also led me to buying Garageband rather than the latest version of Logic Pro for my side hustle of music production).

The basic skills of video storytelling are underestimated at the moment, however. Anyone can wave a phone around but it takes a bit of extra thinking to get sound, video stability, and lighting right at the same time as well as learning to shoot for the edit. That takes a lot of brain power and is best left to those who are good at multi-tasking (isn’t that traditionally women?!)

These skills aren’t the flash techy stuff I agree but frankly, isn’t that nerdy stuff secondary to the actual journalism?

It is after all about the story at the end of the day.