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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – advice for using Skype and recording calls

May 25th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Freelance

Freelance journalist Christopher Goodfellow has written a blog post recommending Skype for interviews.

His post recommends a call recorder and details the cost-saving potential.

It’s also worth reading:

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link.

 

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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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Journalism students’ Skype election coverage project available online

July 22nd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Training

A live election webcast created by a cross-university team of journalism students is now available to view online.

Using Skype and Livestream, students from University of Buckingham, Kingston University and University of Westminster collaborated on the project to run live outside broadcasts and live output as well as interviews and packages from the studio, remaining on air continuously from 10:00pm to 6:00am.

The output has been edited into a series of segments which can be watched at this link.

Twenty students also covered the counts at a range of constituencies in Winchester, Eastleigh (Chris Huhne’s seat); Southampton (two constituencies); Isle of Wight; Devizes; Bethnal Green; Twickenham (Vince Cable’s seat); Battersea; Whitney (David Cameron’s seat); and Aylesbury.

The webcast attracted an audience of 1,500 users.

Additional coverage of the project by Journalism.co.uk can be found at this link.

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Poynter: why all journalists should use Skype

After racking up a longer-than-expected phone bill, Amy Gahran lists the financial pros of using a Skype account.

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Online Journalism China: There’s an expanding array of tools to supply uncensored news – but how many are prepared to listen?

April 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Online Journalism

To add to our burgeoning hoard of international bloggers, Journalism.co.uk has recruited China Daily’s Dave Green to write about online journalism in China.

I recently fell into conversation with a Beijing taxi driver regarding his opinion on the situation in Tibet. His view was that he really had no idea who to believe, as he felt the government-controlled news sources could not be relied upon to provide a truthful account of what was really happening, and, even if he could read English, he would be reluctant to trust Western news sources either.

As an employee of China Daily I encounter on a daily basis the worst of China’s state-peddled misinformation and propaganda.

While it is true that Chinese language newspapers are sometimes prepared to go against the grain and report the truth, the reality is that all traditional media sources are state controlled, and those who wish to dig deeper must do so on China’s burgeoning blogosphere.

The cautionary tale of Zhou Shuguang illustrates the dangers Chinese bloggers face when attempting to bring the truth to light.

Zhou gained a measure of fame early last year for documenting the plight of a homeowner in Chongqing who refused to give in to the demands of a property developer and allow his home to be demolished.

Under the pen name Zola, Zhou publicized the case on his blog and provided up to date coverage with video and still images as the dispute progressed.

The publicity Zhou generated eventually led to the authorities reaching an agreement with the homeowner, inspiring Zhou to continue exposing similar cases.

However, his work, which was funded by a mixture of interview payments and donations, came to an abrupt end in November last year after he travelled to the city of Shenyang in northeast China.

There, he met with a number of defrauded investors who had been promised a 30 per cent return for providing for an aphrodisiac powder. The scheme was, of course, (ant) pie-in-the-sky and resulted in an army of angry investors demanding compensation and government action.

On his way to an interview, Zhou was picked up by Chinese police and told in no uncertain terms to get on a plane home and cease his activities.

He has since returned to his native home to open a business selling vegetables.

Zhou’s short-lived crusade raises a number of interesting issues, not least how he managed to keep his blog open.

Unsurprisingly, Zhou Shuguang’s Golden Age blog was added to the list of blacklisted websites soon after he began work, which prevented it being accessed in China.

However, Chinese netizens, led by blogger Isaac Mao are now increasingly hosting their blogs on servers outside the Chinese mainland.

While this still requires viewers to circumnavigate China’s firewall via the use of proxy servers, it does mean they are safe from being totally shut down by the authorities.

As John Kennedy documents on his excellent Global Voices China blog, the work of AIDS and environmental activist Hu Jia has inspired an increasingly net-savvy population to continue using the highly-encrypted services offered by Skype and Gmail to communicate.

Skype drew criticism in 2006 for partnering with TOM Online, a mobile internet company based in China, to restrict Chinese netizens to downloading a modified version of the software that incorporates a sensitive word filter.

However, for those who intend to seriously pursue citizen journalism in China, obtaining original Skype software is not a problem, and Zhou Shuguang used it extensively to interview people regarding the sensitive topics that he covered.

Those who choose to try and provide uncensored and accurate news in China have an expanding array of tools to help them win the battle with the censors, there are also tools to help read and watch their material behind the firewall.

However, as James Fallows says, the wider question remains how many Chinese will be prepared to listen and watch.

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