Web-exclusive Chapter: Smartphones as a news gathering, reporting and publishing tool
This web-exclusive chapter is about using smartphones - and specifically the iPhone - as a reporting tool
It’s available as text, video or audio
To demonstrate use of the iPhone on the move, I shot this in the car while travelling to a job. This was a live broadcast which I subsequently uploaded to YouTube for onward distribution to Facebook, Twitter and Posterous, and which is intended to illustrate how easy it is to create slightly rough-and-ready but serviceable video on the move.
I’ve also done an audio version of the introduction to this masterclass as a further demonstration. This was recorded as on Audioboo, one of the apps we’ll take a look at later, and shared from there via iTunes and other distribution platforms
Navigating this chapter (text intro below)
iPhone for Journalism overview:This is a slideshow version of a talk I gave this week to journalism students at Kingston University. Now only available to subscribers. It's here
Gadgets: how to maximise the performance of the iPhone. Now only available to subscribers. It's here
Broadcasting platforms: Where, and how, to publish your multimedia content. It's here
Text: Overcoming the shortcomings of the iPhone’s qwerty keyboard. It's here
Audio: The best apps reviewed, explained and demonstrated. It's here
Stills: The iPhone as a stills camera. It's here
Video: The best apps for live broadcasting, and recording It's here
Video and audio editing: How to use VeriCorder 1st Video, the first professional-standard in-phone editor for creating video packages, audio, and audio slide-shows. It's here
We will cover both:
- the iPhone as a news gathering, editing and transmitting device, and
- how to establish publishing platforms for the material you create
Why the iPhone is good for mobile multimedia reporting
First the basics. The device itself is good because it has built-in the things you need:
- a camera for stills and video,
- a Voice Memos app for recording audio,
- a qwerty keyboard for writing text
- GPS to pinpoint your location and enable you to link your reporting to place
But that’s only the foundation of what makes for a very good mobile, multimedia device. What to my mind makes the iPhone unbeatable are all the apps that have been built for it, and which transform its performance.
We’ll look at a range of apps for audio, video and text to see which of them are better than what you get built in.
Then there’s the phone’s broadcasting capabilities. Because gathering the news is one thing, having a place to publish it is another.
The apps make it simple to broadcast video, audio and the rest to social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, but that’s very basic.
There is a danger that, in simply broadcasting snippets – a video clips to YouTube, a tweet to Twitter and a picture to Flickr – you end up with coverage that is highly fragmented.
Your users may catch some bits of your reporting of a particular story or event, but miss others.
What you really need is one platform on which your reporting – text, stills audio and video, can be gathered and presented as a coherent whole.
So we’ll look at the best ways of doing that, creating platforms that not only present your multimedia well, but which also autopost it on to the various social networks we need to have a strong presence on.
But the iPhone is by no means perfect. There are several significant things wrong with it that limit its potential as a reporting tool, unless we find ways to compensate for them.
Why the iPhone is not so great
- Battery life is poor. Half a day at most if you are using it intensively.
- The signal can be poor away from wi-fi hotspots.
- The built-in mic is prone to wind noise in even the merest breeze
- Trying to edit video on the built in app is a nightmare.
But we can sort most of that.
There are now apps available, some free, the rest dead cheap, that vastly improve things – particularly video and audio editing, which can now be done to professional standards with the right £5.99 app.