Top tips to help you master mobile journalism

Top tips to help you master mobile journalism

Mobile journalism is the future, but how is conducted and more importantly how can you do it? PressPad’s Laura Garcia breaks it down in this informative blog.

As a young person entering the industry, the people who are going to hire you will assume that you are a tech wiz kid because you are…. well, young. It’s what you have going for you vs someone (like me) with more experience but who doesn’t understand how to Snapchat. 

As journalists, our phones are our best tool for planning stories, newsgathering, finding people on social media, verifying, editing, broadcasting, podcasting – you name it. If you need to do something, there’s a way to do it on your phone.  You don’t need big cameras, huge tripods or a whole crew to tell stories. The magical gadgets we carry around in our pockets have about 120 million times more power than the computer that landed the Apollo 11 lunar module. 

If you unleash the power of your phone, you can become a one-person production machine.

Think beyond one screen

Just because you are shooting on a small screen, doesn’t mean that’s where the story should end. Think about your phone as your best news gathering tool that can capture many different types of content, help package them and publish them in different spaces. From your small phone screen to TVs, computers, laptops and other mobiles around the world. 

For example: If you’re working for a radio station, on top of recording an audio interview, think about shooting some video, taking some pictures or writing up a twitter thread. And more importantly: think about how all of these things connect to each other. This is called “transmedia storytelling”, the use of multiple media platforms to tell a story where each piece – a tweet, a Tik Tok, an article – is a standalone story but also compliments all the other ones. 

The best example of transmedia storytelling is the Marvel cinematic universe: through films, comic books, video games, spin offs – they weave an entire universe into being. It’s so well done that academics study it (here’s some papers about it as proof).

So take a page from these comic book legends, and approach your mobile journalism the same way. Think about how you capture as much content as possible and how you can weave all the different parts together to tell a complete story across platforms, where all the individual pieces compliment each other rather than just repeat themselves.

Never forget these three things

FACT: If you’re doing everything on your phone, your battery will run out quickly. Really, really, really, really, really, really quickly. If your phone is your notebook, your camera, your edit suite and your publishing space, you lose them all at the same time if your battery dies. 

Be prepared for anything and never be without your charger, a battery pack (or 4), plus an extra long reinforced charging cable. Really long. Like 5 metres long. This long cable will give you the freedom to keep filming freely while charging your phone. The reinforced bit just guarantees that your cable lives longer. 

  • 📲 Phone charger 📲 
  • 🔋  Battery pack   🔋
  • ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ A really long charger cable ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ 

Keep up with the tools, the apps & the trends

The last thing you want is to be trying new apps and new kit while you’re out covering a story. Give yourself the time to play around with platforms, trends, formats and more. Whatever you’re thinking about doing, there’s probably an app for it. If you subscribe to newsletters and follow the right outlets, they will do all the hard work for you and figure out what the newest thing is. Hurray! You can use your time to play and experiment! Here’s some of my favourite ones:

Don’t forget to verify

While you’re experimenting and playing with new ways of telling stories, don’t forget the basics of journalism. Just because something is published on social media or someone’s blog doesn’t mean that it is a reliable piece of information. If you’re out and about on the field, or away from your desktop there’s still a ton of apps and websites you can use to quickly verify content you find online. 

Shameless plug alert for my day job at @firstdraftnews. We have made a mobile toolkit that you can download with useful apps to verify on phones, our essential guides and more! Scan the QR code in the photo or go to this page to download it.

Good storytelling, is still the key

All of the fancy and shiny new tech in the world cannot replace good old fashioned storytelling. Before you run out to cover an event phone in hand, remember to think back to basics: 

  • the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why)
  •  What questions are you going to ask? 
  • What’s the best way to tell that story? 
  • How do you shoot effective sequences. 

If you’re a bit overwhelmed by all of it, this amazing FREE course by the Khan Academy walks you through the storytelling basics that Pixar (yes, Pixar) uses to approach their work. From how to develop characters, storylines, framing and sequences, learn from the minds that brought us Toy Story and The Incredibles.

For more tips, tricks, gadget demos and even framing tips, watch the entire masterclass here.

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