The dawn of Mobile journalism was first illuminated with these scenes shot for a global documentary film project called “Breaking the News.”

robb montgomery films a scene from a documentary in Hong Kong, 2011
Robb Montgomery filming a scene in Hong Kong in 2011 for the documentary.

I have stumbled upon some early #Mojo films I made before a time when we could shoot, edit and share with just our smartphones.

In this video I demonstrate the ability to tell documentary stories with really small cameras from Niagara Falls, Canada. It was shot with a Sony A1 and edited in Final Cut Pro on a 2007-era MacBook Pro.

That Sony camera recorded in HDV – a digital tape format – and I have about 70 of those tapes in my archives from this period.

Between 2007 to 2013 I had a front row seat to witness and document the radical changes that newspapers faced in the first wave of digital transformation. The Pennsylvania News Media Association, IREX Egypt, and the Canadian New Media Association employed me to visit hundreds of newsrooms and train thousands of reporters in video journalism and social media techniques.

Sony a1 video camcorder

I recorded my interviews with this Sony HDV video camera because it was one of the first broadcast quality small camcorders to be used for mobile journalism. UK professor David Dunkley Gyimiah taught me how to shoot with it while we were on assignment in Cairo and Chicago.

"Breaking the News" — Scenes from the documentary film project by Mobile Journalist, Robb Montgomery
“Breaking the News” — Scenes from the documentary film project shot with Mojo gear between 2007 and 2013.

In and around the training and journalism conferences I was invited to teach at I filmed exclusive interviews. The top editors (And also the then female publisher!) of The New York Times were speaking with me when they attended conferences in Paris and Hamburg. And, I filmed more than 25 other interviews with editors-in-chief at newspapers across the USA, Canada, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

This was a time when we were at the cusp of what was then called “Web 2.0.”
YouTube was still a baby, Facebook was a thing but not that big of a thing. Twitter was hatched, but few journalists used it. Zoom did not exist, we all used Skype.

At that time I was teaching ‘Writing for the Web’ courses for broadcast journalists at France24 in Paris in addition to delivering university courses in video journalism, design thinking / innovation methods, and podcasting.

Soon I was invited to lecture on “Web video” at the annual meetings of international journalism conferences and that activity brought me to a lot of new and interesting places like South Africa. I naturally documented the journalists I encountered at each location with my trusty Sony and a Leica G5 pocket cam. My collection of interviews grew even bigger.

Remember there was no Instagram — we all used Flickr at the time.

flickr photo gallery

Social sharing of news stories and Web links was done with a site called Delicious. But, there we were – making #Mojo stories with small cameras from some exotic locations that would be otherwise nearly impossible to get access to.

‘Breaking the News’

View some of the preview scenes I assembled for the journalism documentary film “Breaking The News.”

These shorts are just some of the material I have on the 70 HDV tapes. The ability to import those into a modern version of Final Cut Pro using the latest ProRes codec gives me hope that I may be able to one day finish this film.

All of the research I had collected – my notes at the time – were saved as Delicious links. And Yahoo! abandoned that service not long after buying it. I have other notes saved in the Pocket Web link service and it will just take a monumental amount of time to ingest the tapes, organize the story and get it out there. I am curious to re-interview some people now all these years later to complete the wheel and story arcs.

For example This Dmitry Surnim now works and lives in the USA. He was a Russian newspaper editor when I met and interviewed him in Moscow. Svetlana Maximchenko left journalism shortly after this interview was filmed and I have not heard what she is doing these days.

MOSCOW: Interviews with two Moscow editors in Chief: Dmitry Surnim and Svetlana Maximchenko.

In this scene the viewer catches up with Maximchenko at the newspaper offices of Akzia. Earlier in the film Maximchenko showed her award-winning startup at a newspaper trade show in Las Vegas in 2008.

The viewer also rejoins Surnim who was first interviewed in December 2009.

The setting is an international design competition taking place at Moscow State University where a team of judges gather to debate and award the best-designed Russian-language newspapers.

Toronto and Edinburgh

Edinburgh and Toronto: Problems with print.

In the first part: Scottish media guru, Ally Palmer talks about the generation gaps between newspaper publishers and youth media consumers.

In the second part, Toronto Star Editor-in-Chief, Michael Cooke talks about the revenue problems and where new opportunities for newspapers come from.

Isle of Skye – The employee-owned newspaper

In 2009 The West Highland Free Press on Scotland’s Isle of Skye became employee-owned and has turned a profit every year. A local paper that campaigned for land reform laws – and won them is enough of a reason to visit, But I wanted to sit down with the paper’s Managing Director Paul Wood to get the scoop and to learn if other small publishers could adopt his model. This was the first full-fledged scene I had shot on an iPhone – an iPhone 4 to be precise.

Behind-the-scenes photos from that time and locations ranging from the White Desert in Egypt, a TV studio in Trialeti, Georgia, The Moscow Metro stations, Scotland, Chicago, and journalism classrooms in Cairo.


‘Breaking the News’ is a decades-long project that examines the profound and rapid changes that disruptive technologies that journalists face and the effects on news gatherers, news consumers and the free exchange of democratic ideas.

The film is a touchstone that marks an historic period where journalism is rapidly transforming from a reality of single-copy deadlines to instant news created and consumed in a mobile culture.

The changes in the reporting, distribution and consumption of news is having profound effects on journalists, publishers and consumers. 

U.S journalist/filmmaker Robb Montgomery is directing the feature-length film documentary as he travels the world and talks with journalists at publishing houses large and small over a multi-year period.

Mass media is immersed in an era of unprecedented change in both scale and speed.

This story bears witness to the contraction of old media empires and, at the same time, the emergence of the new models of newspapers that appeal to a new generation of networked media consumers.