Covering Television News with a Cellular Telephone

It is more reality than speculation for journalists to cover events of interest using smart phone cameras. Amani Channel champions mobile devices as news gathering tools. Channel is content/community manager for PBS Atlanta’s “Lens on Atlanta” service. He hosted Poynter Institute’s webinar “Mobile Media 101: Producing News with Your Smart phone.”

Channel uses KOB TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico as an example of smart phone reporting. He cites their live feed of the house fire reporter Jeremy Jojola covered with his iPhone. Jojola uses Qik to stream live video. Smart phones are extreme tools in news coverage. In times of cinched belts Jojola’s expenses for transmission of the fire were his time, phone service and Internet service. It is tough to beat the cost when quality is less important or immediacy more desirable.

A recent Howard Kurtz Washington Post report focuses on a single backpack reporter – Scott Broom of WUSA, Washington, D. C. Kurtz notes Broom’s gear is a laptop. Smart phone, video camcorder, and tripod. The Post staff writer spins his portrait underscoring Broom’s news gathering skills and live feed using Skype video and voice over Internet Protocol.

There is a range of technology designed for backpack journalism from smart phone tactics Channel teaches beyond the simple setup Broom deploys in the United States Capitol. At the low end, Michelle Blevins from the Pulaski County Journal made immediate use of what she learned from the Poynter webinar in a water rescue report on Ustream. NBC’s Richard Engel’s War Zone diary is a high end example of digital journalism.

Kurtz quotes NBC senior vice president Alexandra Wallace saying “I would not say cost wasn’t a factor, but it was not the driving factor.” She refers to growing use of digital journalists. Few will argue quality of traditional video production is superior compared to works of digital journalists. It is a rare individual who can chew bubble gum, talk flawlessly, drive safely, and read a map at the same time.

Broadcast Newsroom Computing will next look at more of the affordable technologies creating a new order in broadcast journalism.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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One Response to “Covering Television News with a Cellular Telephone”

  1. Matt Hart Says:

    I think that this technology is highly disruptive. In our office, we have high def video conference rooms with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that takes special requests to setup.

    We don’t use it – rather we do video conferencing for free via Oovoo, and it works great and looks great.

    – Matt H

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