If you think you’re ready to use your smartphone for more than Angry Birds and email, here are a few tips on beginning work as a mobile journalist:
1. START WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
The synergy between social media and mobile newsgathering is powerful. The next time you’re out on a story, take a picture of what’s happening and post it to Facebook, use your phone to update your Twitter followers on an ongoing story, or maximize down time at a news event to respond to comments or re-tweet a follower. Smartphones make it easier to ramp up audience interaction on social media.
2. KNOW YOUR APPS
There are dozens of great smartphone tools available to journalists now. Here are a few tried and true:
• Camera+Pro ($1.99), PhotoGene ($1.99) and PhotoshopExpress (free) are worth checking out for still photos.
• VC Audio Pro ($6.99) for audio recording and editing.
• 1st Video ($9.99) for video recording and editing.
For an expansive list of tools and apps, see Will Sullivan’s Mobile Journalism Reporting Tools Guide.
3. THE RULES STILL APPLY
When it comes to mobile newsgathering, many principles remain the same for still photos and video: Keep the mobile device steady, get close to your subject instead of using a digital zoom, and try to avoid shooting in low light. For gathering audio and video, consider purchasing an external microphone to improve sound quality. And for video, remember the aspect ratio of TV (4:3, 16:9) and hold the camera horizontally when shooting.
Journalists have found smartphones to be particularly powerful tools during breaking news, especially for weather events. When people have lost power to their computers and TVs, they often still follow the story via mobile devices. The speed, audience engagement and robust storytelling capabilities of mobile make it a must use for today’s digital journalists.