Smartphones make high-quality audio and video affordable for any newsroom. So why aren’t they used universally?
Radio journalists were early adopters of smartphones to record audio for news and current affairs shows, because the microphones on most smartphones have been good enough to record broadcast quality audio for over a decade.
But the cameras on smartphones have been slower to catch up. It is only in the past year or so that they have begun to compete fully with DSLR and TV cameras, especially in low light locations. Most smartphones still lack an optical zoom, although Apple, Huawei and Oppo all released phones in 2018 and 2019 with zoom capabilities. However, it’s still necessary with the vast majority of phones to ‘zoom with your feet’ and get close to the subject.
Nevertheless, many individual TV journalists – like Umashankar Singh at NDTV, Leonor Suarez at RTPA, and Ashlynne McGee at the ABC, are adopting mobile storytelling. And a growing number of media outlets – like FBC in Fiji, CBC in Canada, NDTV in India, Léman Bleu in France, and Omrop Fryslân in the Netherlands are encouraging most or all their journalists to use smartphones on the job. Others, like the Irish broadcaster RTE, have dedicated teams using smartphones to create news packages for TV and online, and have even produced full-length TV documentaries.
What they’re finding is that mobile journalism works. First, most journalists already own a smartphone, and with simple accessories like a tripod and external microphones, you can make broadcast-quality radio and television content.
And that means any media outlet can gather more images, audio and video, and engage more easily with their audiences for feedback and follow-ups.
Corinne Podger is the author of this manual and a mojo training consultant based in Australia. She trains newsrooms, NGOs and university students all over the world on mobile and digital skills. In this video she explains why mobile reporting is essential for newsrooms and offers tips for newsroom managers to build smartphones into journalism workflows.