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#media140 – Get messy with mobile journalism, says Adam Westbrook

April 13th, 2011Posted by in Broadcasting, Events, Mobile

Quantity over quality – that needs to be the mindset for mobile journalists, UK online video journalist Adam Westbrook said today at the #media140 conference in Barcelona.

While there are similarities between video journalists and mobile journalists, being the latter, by its nature, is about being in a particular place, he said, and the ability to get information out quickly, and in volume.

You need the drive to be where the story is and once you’re there to get as close as you can. You’re not restricted to being close to the action. There is also the mindset of speed … You have to have an ‘always on’ mindset, always carrying your gear with you and always be looking for a story. Switch on and get your phone out and get some coverage straight away.

Because mobile journalism is still so new, you also need to be very willing to experiment. This runs across all spheres of journalism. It is about getting messy, in a way, there is no roadmap, there is no path.

Westbrook opened his presentation with the great example of UK journalist Alex Wood and his colleagues’ coverage of the G20 summit in 2009, despite being kept in a containment area. Unlike the mainstream media, unable to get their tapes out of the area, Wood’s team were able to connect to wifi and report on what was happening using their mobiles.

They sent Tweets and uploaded photos from their phones. For Alex and his colleagues its became quite a landmark moment for their journalism. Because they were mobile they had the advantage over the mainstream media. It really shows the potential that mobile journalism has.

Another practical advantage was illustrated in a photo Westbrook showed next, of a broadcast team filming an interview with numerous members of crew, a camera, autoprompter, lighting and “miles of cable”.

In comparison, the typical mobile journalism setup consists of a camera which doubles up as a phone, a high quality microphone, a mifi connector and a small tripod, he said.

Technology has allowed mobile journalism to happen as it does. Also the infrastructure has improved, there’s wifi in more places and high speed broadband.”

So what could the future hold for mobile journalism? Westbrook’s ideas were:

  • Location based news
  • Geo-tagging
  • Mobile moving mainstream
  • More citizen reporting

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