The Evolution of Mobile Journalism

Smartphones today are more powerful, their cameras ever sharper, and the apps for filming, editing and transmitting visual reports are allowing journalists to produce professional results from the field in near real-time.

A VRT broadcast reporter getting hands-on #MOJO training in the streets of Brussels.

Today, a fully trained mobile journalist can be extremely productive and serve a variety of roles for daily film, video and audio reporting.

Almost everywhere you look, there is a new #MOJO workshop, group, bookchat, filmwalk, gadget, or online course.

Mid-career journalists can even skill up and earn a certificate in mobile journalism.

MOJO is mandatory 
In the journalism schools where I teach in Europe; Mobile Reporting is a compulsory course for every first year student. 

Three years ago I wrote the syllabus and started training journalism students at a university in Vienna, Austria.

All first year journalism students at FH Wien in Austria are required to pass an immersive Mojo training course.

Last week, we once again produced an intensive workshop for the entire class and the dean is happy to see evidence that mastering the Mojo skill set early in the process is building a strong foundation for the next generation of visual-first journalists.

Actually, a generation of truly versatile journalists: Reporters who can quickly report and edit non-fiction narratives in pictures, sequences and sound bites with video-led stories.

Every one of them now has experience using their smartphone camera as a powerful reporter’s notebook.

What kind of MOJO are you?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for mobile journalism.

MOJO is both a basic reporting skill and also an advanced concept used to re-orient the culture of your newsroom with a common language.

MOJO can bring enterprise-wide literacy for advancing visual story forms that connect reporters, specialists and solo VJ’s to their story coverage.

VJ’S are the James Bond’s of the Mojo pecking order.

For example, crisis reporters like Class Weinmann of Bild report from war zones and natural disasters with a range of cameras and techniques.

Claas is a VJ. He can shoot, edit, interview, produce, and file footage, sequences, bites, rushes, and finished mini-documentary packages with any gear he happens to have on him.

That’s the James Bond stuff. Very few people will ever be that good, and that is OK.

The good news is that you don’t need a newsroom full of just these VJs to reap the benefits of improving mojo literacy with your teams.

#MOJO Live streams

Some media organizations and broadcasters that I work with are intensely focused on having their Mojo reporters produce live streaming video reports.

That’s the case with MTV 3 in Helsinki.

MYV has been a client of mine for the last three years and a former political reporter has seen the potential, made her prototypes and today is the first full-time Mojo reporter for her country.

Together we are training the rest of her colleagues in Mojo reporting techniques.

#MOJO Social

Other clients are using Mojo reporting to produce video content for social media platforms and even broadcasting on air with high quality footage that was completely produced with smartphones.

With the debut of new small 360° video cameras that can attach to smartphone apps; the range of stories, assignments and innovation strategies for MOJO reporting is rapidly expanding.

February 2017:  Filming a double rainbow in the Valley of Death, on a 30-day #MoJoTrek across the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Today’s opportunities for mobile reporting in real-time are a far cry from 1987 when I was transmitting my first digital pictures from news events as a student photojournalist for the AP and UPI.

I would take assignments for the UPI and AP and send news photos from the location using a machine like this. It took eight minutes to digitize and transmit one black and white photo over the phone lines.

I wish that you could see the look on the faces of my first year journalism students when I show them these pictures.

But that is simply what ‘mobile journalism’ looked like when I was in journalism school.

This is what #MOJO looks like today. 

Below is a video I streamed live to Facebook using three old iPhones and an iPad Pro as a video switcher.

I self-produced this live stream video as a ‘proof-of-concept.’

It is truly amazing what one fully-trained Mojo reporter can produce with small mobile devices these days.

And while newsrooms and classrooms have come a long way over the last 30 years, there is still a lot more work to be done to realize the full potential of what MOJO workflows can bring to your news organization.