We all carry smartphones. We know how to video call, take pictures and post on social media. But when a crisis hits, are you be able to quickly step up as a frontline reporter and create professional packaged stories for the wider world using only your mobile device?
When the Beirut explosion happened last August, the dramatic story played out in front of thousands of people on the streets. It was perfect material for field reporting to show the social impact of the blast. Many did so with great effectiveness. Yet many traditional journalists found their mobile journalism (mojo) skills lacking and they were frustrated in attempts to put together professional video or audio packages with the necessary speed and confidence.
COVID-19 has also created opportunities for mojo – an empowering type of journalism that suits women. In any crisis, there is a need for ground-up and human interest reporting that can only be done in the field. Armed only with a consumer device, women can work discreetly, and gain access to and the trust of underserved, marginalised or at-risk communities much easier than say an imposing TV crew.
The new reality of working-from-home, of having limited newsroom backup, or perhaps being forced to go it alone as a freelancer, is a big incentive to reassess how you gather, report and share your stories. There is huge value in digital storytelling.
“Mojo is a powerful way to increase the value and visibility of women reporters,” says Mojo and WIN trainer Robb Montgomery in his book Mobile Journalism. “By appearing on camera, conducting interviews, filming the shots, and editing reports herself, women Mojos can demonstrate a commanding competency of comprehensive reporting capabilities.”
TIPS AND RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED
- Mobile trainer Bernhard Lill, offers some tips to get you going, via Journalism.co.uk.
- The story comes first. It must be relevant to your audience, new and have a protagonist, a plot and a setting.
- The mobile device comes second. You don’t have to have the latest smartphone
- Get to know the apps that can get you started
- Inbuilt microphones can be limiting. Use an external mic where possible.
- If you are serious about mojo, a grip and tripod may be worth getting or improvise by making your own.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
- The 12 best apps for mobile journalism is a list shared by Montgomery. Most are free.
- Mobile journalism manual is an online guidebook put together by Australian trainer Corinne Podger and a team of mobile journalists.
- Montgomery’s book Mobile Journalism is available in various formats. Details here.
- Montgomery has a video Reporting Breaking News With Just an iPhone which is a good place to start.