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#AOPsummit: How ZDNet approaches mobile reporting with a responsive design CMS

October 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Events, Mobile

Business technology news website ZDNet not only has a responsive site which adapts to the size of the screen it is viewed on, but has a responsively designed CMS, which scales to fit the screen size with the aim of making it easy for journalists to file stories from a smartphone or tablet.

The responsive CMS, which was developed internally, was introduced in July, Laura Jenner, product manager for CBS Interactive UK, which publishes ZDNet, said at today’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit.

In the session, which focussed on user experience and responsive (or adaptive) design, Jenner argued the case for responsive design, saying it is is “much better for user interaction” than an ‘m.’ mobile site.

And ease of using the site to download a white paper, for example, is key.

Loyal users are key to building audience as they always have been.

There are also business benefits of adaptive design, Jenner said, explaining that both users and search engines prefer using a responsively-designed site.

“Adaptive design is Google’s recommended option,” Jenner added.

And mobile means “you also have access to readers at times you didn’t previously”, she explained. “In the past you would have to wait until 9am on a Monday until people returned to their desks.”

Responsive design may also reduce the need for native apps and therefore reduce overheads, she added.

Asked how to convince advertisers of the advantages, Jenner said:

We are not forcing users onto another platform, they are already there. And we are providing a much better environment for advertising campaigns.

Asked whether journalists need to adapt articles or headlines to fit mobile reading, Jenner said “we don’t tell [journalists] to write a headline that fits on mobile”, adding that she believes people don’t want a shorter version of the story on mobile but want the full article.

In discussing development costs, she explained that responsive design is probably no cheaper as a one-off cost than developing native apps, but that the option is “far easier to iterate” and develop over time.

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#Tip: Follow Sky News reporter in using Bambuser to livestream video

March 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile

Here is an idea for all journalists: use Bambuser to broadcast a livestream video from your phone.

The app and mobile site allows you to stream video from no less than 360 mobile phone models.

Sky News North of England correspondent Nick Martin yesterday used his iPhone to livestream a report on queues at fuel stations.

It wasn’t broadcast live or aired later on Sky news on this occasion but enabled Martin to share live footage with his Twitter followers. A total of 45 watched it live, with current viewer stats standing at 443.

He told Journalism.co.uk:

We’ve been covering the fuel problems at forecourts across the country.

It was just a case of going past a forecourt and seeing pretty lengthy queues of 50 or 60 cars and not having a cameraman with me.

It’s a way of getting pictures in real time to Twitter followers or to a news desk.

The quality sometimes isn’t great but a way of people being able to plug into what you’re doing as a reporter.

Martin said he saw real value in the possibilities during a breaking news story, such as the riots, of the channel broadcasting the phone footage live.

Martin explained that Sky News has its own technology to allow reporters to sent high quality phone video footage to the newsdesk.

Hans Eriksson from Bambuser told Journalism.co.uk:

Bambuser has been used by several smaller local media outlets in the UK over the last year but this is the first time it’s been used this way by a nationwide media.

Bambuser is a previous app of the week for journalists.

Nick Martin spoke about his innovative uses of apps at last month’s news:rewired conference for journalists.

Here are Martin’s three pieces of advice for journalists considering using mobile phones for reporting. The liveblog of the session is at this link.

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Al Jazeera to broadcast Syria documentary filmed entirely on iPhone

In an interesting development for mobile journalism, Al Jazeera is due to broadcast a documentary tomorrow night (Wednesday, 14 March) on Syria which has been filmed by a journalist using just an iPhone due to safety concerns.

According to a press release, the film, called ‘Syria: Songs of Defiance‘, “follows the journalist, who is not named to protect the people he spoke to, on a journey amongst the uprising in Syria”.

At the start of the documentary, the release adds, the correspondent for Al Jazeera will be heard saying:

I can’t tell you my name. I’ve spent many months secretly in Syria for Al Jazeera.

I cannot show my face and my voice is disguised to conceal my identity, because I don’t want to endanger my contacts in Syria.

Because carrying a camera would be risky, I took my cell phone with me as I moved around the country and captured images from the uprising that have so far remained unseen.

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Five tips from a radio journalist who reports solely from an iPhone and iPad

September 28th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Mobile

For the past 18 months Neal Augenstein, a reporter with Washington DC’s all news radio station WTOP, has carried out all his field reporting from his iPhone and iPad.

Like many radio reporters Augenstein is also shooting and editing video, taking photos and tweeting from the scene of news stories he covers. All the audio, video, audio, photos and scripts he produces are created and edited on his two devices.

A year and a half in, we spoke to him to find out how he is finding the experience. He said he finds the iPhone more valuable than the iPad and tends to produce his live and pre-recorded audio reports on his phone, but writes scripts on his tablet.

Asked how it has changed his job, Augenstein told Journalism.co.uk:

It’s certainly made things a lot easier for me in terms of being able to put my laptop away and all the heavy equipment such as the cables, microphones, recorders, all the cameras that I was using.

There are some challenges to that, for instance, how do you put an iPhone on a podium for a news conference?

Another hurdle he has had to overcome is how to cope with the iPhone being susceptible to wind noise.

So what are his tips on apps and techniques for this form of reporting?

1. 1st Video – Augenstein uses this video recording and editing app for both his video and audio work. It allows multitrack editing and sharing but those familiar with PC or Mac audio and video editing will need to learn a few new swipes and pinches. Here is Journalism.co.uk’s guide on how to shoot and edit video using this app.

2. Ustream – He uses Ustream for livestreaming video, often in breaking news situations. Other app options for free livestreaming include Bambuser and Qik.

3. Skype is used by Augenstein for live reporting, rather than a phone line. He says he finds Skype “a robust way to communicate for a live report”.

One of our goals is the elimination of cell phone-quality recordings from our broadcasts.

Another recommendation from Augenstein was to take the audio from a live video stream, although you cannot have a two-way interview, between the reporter and studio presenter (although you could perhaps do this if you had two phones, one to livestream from and one to listen to the presenter, or if you have a radio to hear the station output, providing there was no delay in transmission).

4. Camera Plus – The WTOP reporter uses this app, also available for Android and BlackBerry, to tweak and edit photos.

5. Spend wisely. Augenstein uses the iPhone’s built in microphone.

There are ways you can plug in other microphones but my goal is trying to minimise the amount of accessories that I need.

As for setting up shots, Augenstein has got a Gorilla iPhone tripod, but opts for handheld shooting for video.

As a radio station our video does tend to be rather rudimentary. Getting a steady shot is important but our web videos are generally not produced, voicetracked packages. What we’re trying to do is work on the synergy between the on air product and the website and the social. If the radio report has sound bites of a person speaking, the website and the video is supposed to complement rather than duplicate what is in the report.

He has looked into the services provided by two companies, Tieline and Comrex, which allow you to broadcast live from a phone. Both options require relatively expensive kit to allow the audio to input via a channel on the radio mixing desk.

I have found, unfortunately, to this point that getting a good connection is difficult. Wifi is always a better-sounding connection than 3G or 4G and in breaking news situations you often don’t have optimal situations.

Since he locked away his cables, cameras and microphones in February 2010, Augenstein has seen his report turn around time decrease.

What used to take 30 minutes to create a fully-produced report I can now do in 10 minutes.

The sound quality is probably is only 92 per cent as good as broadcast-quality equipment, that’s the number I’ve been estimating, but as it can be tweaked and goes through processing at the radio station, people really can’t tell the difference.

And the most beneficial part of his 18-month iPhone and iPad trial?

It’s a chance to re-think the newsgathering process, which to me is the most exciting part about it.

  • Sign up to attend Journalism.co.uk’s one-day training course in using a mobile for reporting, which is being held in London on 4 November 2011.
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Editors Weblog: Google CEO on telling people what to do

Continuing the debate over how Google and online news publishers can, or can’t, work together in the future, Editors Weblog has a short article based on an interview between Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt and the Wall Street Journal.

The overall message is that the future of digital news will lie in using advertising to “tell people what they should be doing” and capitalising on the movement of news searches to other platforms – namely mobile.

Once again, Schmidt promises newspapers a profitable place in Google’s future. “The only way the problem [of insufficient revenue for news gathering] is going to be solved is by increasing monetisation, and the only way I know of to increase monetisation is through targeted ads. That’s our business.” Newspapers have always answered questions that people were not aware they had to ask, and they simply have to continue doing this to fit in.

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Video: CNN mobile event, the Frontline Club

August 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

“Mobile is as different to online as television is to radio,” CNN’s vice-president of mobile Louis Gump told an audience at the Frontline Club, in an event supported by Journalism.co.uk.

You can now watch video of the event below, including discussion of the role of mobile journalism in the newsroom and the opportunities offered to journalists by mobile technologies:



Related coverage on Journalism.co.uk:

Podcast from the CNN Mobile event

Blog round-up of mobile journalism discussion

CNN launches free international news app for iPhone and iPod Touch

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‘There’s a killer app on your phone. It’s called a phone': Journalists talk mobile at CNN event

July 23rd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Events, Mobile, Online Journalism

Journalists from across all media platforms came together at the Frontline Club last night to discuss the impact of mobile on the newsroom and the wider media world.

“Mobile is as different to online as television is to radio,” CNN’s vice-president of mobile Louis Gump told the Frontline audience.

In the beginning people took someone who was sitting in the radio studio and put a camera on it. Then realised they didn’t have to do it that way. I think that’s what happening now.

He told Journalism.co.uk that the near future of mobile content needs to look at original content, rather than just using it as a new platform for existing material.

The biggest change I think will happen at CNN over the next two years is we are going to start creating content just for mobile devices. Right now most of what you see on a mobile from CNN you can also find on other platforms, but we will have more original programming.

The panel debate covered most of the ongoing issues surrounding mobile journalism, from the role a device plays in the image of a journalist to the debate over how such content should be used by ‘professional’ video journalists. Andy Dickinson, course leader of BA Digital Journalism Production at University of Central Lancashire, said it was a “mistake” to expect large news organisations to adopt the same production processes as smaller outlets.

I think it is a mistake to always be talking about what’s happening outside mainstream media, it won’t work for us. We can’t do it because of our agenda and personal and professional things get in the way of that. Now and then our big spotlight will land on it. But citizen journalism is not there to replace, it’s there to amplify.

Gump agreed, saying that the rise of citizen journalism “increases the value” of professional journalists, by “filling in the gaps”, but would not be a replacement: “We are still telling the hard news, [citizen journalism] enriches the overall offering”. Alex Wood, freelance mobile journalist and co-founder of Not on the Wires, added that mobiles were simply another platform to leverage the story. But he said in his own work, such as when he organised mass coverage of the G20 summit by mobile phones, the journalistic talent still had to shine through.

I always try to keep the integrity of the story and still worked very hard to make it journalistic. People tend to obsess about technology being one thing after another. Why not use your mobile phone to do your vox pops. There’s nothing wrong with you then putting that into a more traditional package. It’s another tool in the ever expanding toolkit that journalists have now. We can still take things from broadcast, for example framing a good shot and having good audio. Let’s go back to the basics but use them in the new technology.

He added that as a journalist using user generated content, old rules of fact-checking must still apply.

People can manipulate technology very easily and its still a worry. Journalists still need to pick up the phone and speak to the person if they have submitted media. We should always keep to those standards.

Jonathan Hewett, director of the newspaper journalism course at City University, agreed: “We are not going to chuck out the old stuff and forget the valuable lessons”. Prompting Dickinson to respond: “There’s a killer app on your phone that will allow you to check if something is right. It’s called your phone.”

Hewett said mobile has created opportunities for newspapers who do not have the visual reputation of a broadcaster, but more needs to be done.

Newspapers have been slower to catch up with more innovative stuff, but they are getting to realise mobile reporting is one way where a newspaper website can be different. It isn’t too fussed about quality of footage (…) We are still at early stage with mobiles full stop. We need to keep throwing spaghetti at the wall.

Wood commented near the end of the panel debate that he wanted to see more innovation from iPad apps, which he claimed had so far been “disappointing”, telling Journalism.co.uk to expect to see some exciting stuff from him in the near future.

CNN also announced the launch of a new international iPhone app featuring their iReport platform at the event. See our report here, and catch up with tweets from the event with the #cnnfrontline hashtag.

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iPhone 4 a ‘serviceable web video camera in breaking news situations’

Len De Groot, from the Knight Digital Media Center, has a useful first-hand account of using the iPhone 4 for reporting news.

Having taken his new iPhone out with him at lunch to put its tools to the test, he agreed it would prove a valuable tool for reporters.

Suddenly, the iPhone can be a serviceable web video camera in breaking news situations or unplanned interviews. It allows you to shoot and edit video, add lower thirds and titles and upload directly to the web.

It will not replace professionals and professional equipment, however. It fits into “the best camera is the one you have on you” category.

In his post he discusses his experiences of audio quality, uploading a full HD video to quicktime and then getting the clips onto youtube and vimeo as viewing platforms.

See the full post here…

Related reading on Journalism.co.uk: iPhone 4 developments herald a mobile future for news

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Manchester Evening News mojo captures Ronaldo crash

January 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Multimedia

The Manchester Evening News‘ decision to equip some journalists with Nokia N95 handsets has started to bear fruit, as mojo (mobile journalist) Nicola Dowling captured Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent fender bender.

Dowling’s mobile pics from the scene were supplemented with some video footage, which shows just how high quality the N95 cameras are:

According to a report on HoldtheFrontPage, Dowling’s footage and images were picked up by the Sun, BBC and Sky News.

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