iPhones: The only tool a journalist needs

Image by Mark Hakansson


Journalists need just one piece of kit to take photographs, film video and engage with their audience – an iPhone.

Panellists at the news:rewired – digital stories conference, in London this morning, were full of praise for Apple’s smartphone, which has been given out to journalists at several print and broadcast news organisations to enable quick and effective reporting from the field.

Nick Garnett, North of England correspondent for BBC 5Live, spoke of times past, when radio broadcasting equipment was heavy, expensive and difficult to use.

Now, sharing the photographer’s mantra of “The best camera is the one you’re carrying”, Garnett said he used his iPhone to record audio bulletins.

He explained to conference delegates how his iPhone proved essential when reporting on last year’s riots, when the media found themselves targeted as much as the police.

He said:

We had to find a way  to safely report the story.

Using just an iPhone, Garnett said he was able to report from outside a shop without drawing attention to himself. He also had some advice for engineers wanting to develop mobile technology:

If you’re going to make something for mobile journalism, you’ve got to make it easy to use.

This was echoed by Neil McIntosh, deputy editor Europe of the Wall Street Journal, who said the easy functionality of iPhones ensured his reporters had no problems using the hardware out on the field, responding to a demand from their audience for more video content.

They’re actually able to shoot HD video on their iPhones now. Five years ago, that would have been outlandish.

In addition to the increased functionality of handheld devices, Eric Siereveld, vice president of Finnish company Scoopshot, said his firm’s app allowed journalists to harness both amateur and professional photographers at the scene of a breaking story as it enabled journalists to search for user-submitted pictures to illustrate their stories online and in print.

Siereveld said:

Don’t underestimate the power of the crowd. People want to engage in the news.

Panellists also emphasised that while are plenty of smartphones and apps available on the market for Android-enabled handsets, the iPhone seemed to have a well-established reputation for producing good quality mobile content, including audio and video.

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