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US: Mobile journalism is changing the newsroom

US: Mobile journalism is changing the newsroom

Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp has produced a special report on how mobile reporting has and will broadly change the organization of the newsroom.

An increasing number of newspapers employ mobile journalists, otherwise known as 'mojos'. As the technology and gadgets to capture and transmit multimedia data on the go become more widespread, reporters spend more time on the ground, expected to quickly file stories for the Web.

Some editors worry that this will lead to less editorial oversight. "Being in an office where you can collaborate with others can be very beneficial," said Tim Franklin, editor of The Sun in Baltimore.

But it has become clear that reporters will increasingly be expected to work remotely.

The News-Press in Fort Myers has been at the forefront of mobile journalism (see this analysis piece with 'mojo' Chuck Myron).

The newspapers, with a circulation of about 70,000 copies, plans to outfit all 44 news staffers with mobile packs that include laptops, digital cameras and audio recorders by the end of spring.

"Everyone still has a desk, either here or from a bureau, as an umbilical cord," said News-Press editor Kate Marymont. "But at least 80% of reporters are just on laptops. It really spiked in 2007."

In many cases, 'mojo' practices lead to immediate filing of stories, often providing blog-type updates. Many reporters seem to enjoy returning to the field and being able to report instantaneously.

The idea is to get local news on the Web immediately, to get out in the community and get stories you wouldn't otherwise get," said Brian Howard, a mobile journalist at The Journal News in White Plains. "I have filed plenty from my laptop, in my car."

However, a number of editors and reporters are still concerned by the emergence of these practices. "I don't have the ability yet where I don't need an editor above me. I sometimes wish I had someone over my shoulder more," said a reporter at the Indianapolis Star.

And the costs can be dissuasive, according to Democrat & Chronicle editor Karen Magnuson: $15,000 for a mobile journalist backpack including a video camera, audio recorder, laptop, cell phone, and other gadgets.

Yet many newspapers are acquiring mobile kits at much lower costs, and despite fears of potentially deteriorating communications, the trend is towards mobile journalism.

Read Strupp's full story below.

Source: Editor & Publisher



Jean Yves Chainon


2008-05-21 11:07

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