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The Mobile Journalism Revolution

proxy© Twitter @ RTE

The explosion in smartphones has not stopped disrupting journalistic practices. Not only has it deeply altered the relationship between the public and the media but it has given journalists a new tool – the mobile phone – which allows them to film, photograph and even edit their own reports directly on their mobile. It is now called mobile journalism or ‘Mojo’, in short. If you didn’t know anything about this concept, you would probably think that it is just not possible to take professional images with a device like this. This video about bagpipes making proves quite the opposite:

This whole report was made on an iPhone 6 by the Irish national television broadcaster RTE. RTE was a true pioneer in this area, has already trained its staff in Mojo and intends to play a leading role in promoting it more widely. On 27 March, it jointly hosted the first ‘Mojocon’ in Dublin, and 400 delegates took turns in singing the praises of this practice.

First amongst them, cost: mojo reduces reporting costs tenfold! All you need is a mobile, a ‘mojokit’ with a mini-tripod and some editing and broadcasting apps – lots of these are available free of charge from the Apple store

The other advantage is, of course, that it is discreet. Press photographer Karim Ben Khelifa who, in March 2011, put together a portfolio on the demonstrations in Yemen on his iPhone for Le Monde, explained at that time.

‘The demonstrators (…) are all with their phones held up high taking photos of what’s happening. After all, [taking my photos on the iPhone] is just doing exactly what they are doing, and is incredibly discrete; you just blend into the crowd’.

Michael Rosenblum, another pioneer of mobile journalism, sees the main advantage of the democratisation of these reporting tools as making every one of us into a potential journalist. A brilliant article on the Meta-Media site reports what he said:

‘With 3 billion mobile phones in the world, there are potentially 3 billion journalists who produce sounds, images and stories.’

With this profusion of ‘reporter citizens’, professional journalists could, in his view, lose their purpose in life:

‘And even if [a] crew were sent to Cairo (for example) at enormous cost — how much could they possibly cover – (…) (My guess is that they don’t speak Arabic, just flew in and are staying at the Four Seasons). But how many people in Cairo (or Kiev or Kabul or anywhere else) already have an HD TV studio in their pocket? Why do they need CNN at all?’ he told the Huffington Post.

Having said that, in the view of most participants in the Mojocon, professional journalists still have a bright future ahead of them. What matters is not so much the tools of the trade – smartphone or professional camera – but more the author’s ability to tell a story and offer some insight into the events…

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