#newsrw: Mobile devices ideal for low-cost, high-volume content, says mobile panel

Ilicco Elia, head of consumer mobile at Thomson Reuters, started the mobile journalism debate at news:rewired by questioning the phrase itself.

Journalists should always be mobile. We shouldn’t be calling them ‘mobile’ journalists.

The image of journalists sitting at a desk and receiving stories through the office phone was “ridiculous nowadays”, Elia said. He added that while there are certain circumstances where a full camera kit is still needed, it is not always necessary.

The phone has an arsenal of tools for journalists to decide how best to tell the story. We are not trying to replace the professional equipment, but offer more tools to have a way of creating and disseminating content directly from where they are. That is the whole point of giving our journalists mobile devices.

Michael Targett, online and digital development editor at Flightglobal (RBI) added to the debate by illustrating the high volume of content possible when using mobile journalism. He referred to the work of John Ostrower, who was sent to cover the first flight of the Boeing 707.

Across his three days of coverage he produced an impressive 14 blog posts, 182 tweets, 282 images, four videos and 25 lives shows. In response his work received 249 comments and 349,622 page views.

RBI is currently updating their iPhone application to offer an Air Show feed and enhanced personalisation, as well as a Foursquare campaign.

Miriam Warren, head of European community management at, said they had experienced similar feedback from their iPhone applications, with 27 per cent of searches coming from that platform. She also illustrated the differences between desktop and mobile users of the site, with the former migrating to the latter at weekends.

We find the heavy volume of weekday desktop users at migrate over to the mobile at weekends as people make decisions on the go.

She said it was therefore vital for online publishers to redesign mobile interfaces by “stripping out the detail” to meet the different needs of mobile users.

Sam Jones, director of strategy at Kyte, added that there were three specific challenges that they can help tackle using mobile content provision; fragmentation, cost of video production and speed to content.

Drawing back to Ilicco Elia’s earlier point of mobile journalism being an added platform, rather than a replacement, Jones said “supplementary” mobile footage tackles the cost issue.

While you need that layer of content, which costs, you can create supplementary content at low cost with mobile phones.

He illustrated this point with a reference to the Huffington Post’s use of Kyte to bring together mobile footage from the public and journalists on a given story, with an open comment facility for the reader.

Read more on mobile developments for journalists on at this link.

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