An experiment in Mobile Journalism or MoJo
In January I experimented with a little mobile journalism, or MoJo, on a small story. Using Qik on a Dopod mobile phone, I live streamed video from the scene of a unit fire on Brisbane’s south side.
This was by no means an experiment in mobile journalism that even basically covered how MoJo could be done, it was simply a spur of the moment decision to give it a go. These are my thoughts on the process.
One of the videos watching fire fighters go about their work after they had already put the fire out.
Interview with the fire officer in charge
This video was taken with a TV cameraman alongside me. The use of his light was crucial. I had earlier interviewed the officer in charge using my point and shoot camera, but the footage was very poor without a light on the subject.
Each time I started a new video stream an update was sent to Twitter. While I was live streaming to the internet several people used Qik’s inbuilt comment facility to send me comments asking where I was, who I was with, and what was going on.
Pro: There is the potential for community or viewer input during a live interview. The journalist could invite questions from the audience, choosing one or several to ask directly if appropriate.
Con: None really. The comments don’t create a notification sound or show in the video. The only issue is if a journalist thinks they might be distracted, but this is easily overcome by turning off comments.
The vision is streaming live to the internet.
Pro: No editing required before original content can be viewed. Gives audience the very real sense of “being there”, and participating in the event or interview.
Con: For mainstream media, there could be the paralysing fear of loss of control. What might someone say or do? Not just say in terms of “offensive” language, but saying something that could present a serious legal problem, like accusing someone of being responsible for a crime. The fear is not irrational, but TV do live crosses all the time.
Another loss of control is the ability to embed the video anywhere. That means competitors could simply put the embed code on their own site. This isn’t a problem if there is a way of appropriately branding the video because viewers will still know who created the content, no matter where they see it.
Apart from live streaming to the internet, I also took images and video on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W110. In some cases this was concurrent, simply holding the camera under the phone while one streamed and the other recorded.
The most compelling footage of the fire was shot on a mobile phone by a neighbour, not a member of the media. Connecting our phones via Bluetooth, he was able to give me the footage of flames shooting from the window. That phone footage was used on TV news the following day and can be seen embedded in the Courier Mail story here.
The videos above are in a live emergency services situation, but standard interviews are of course also possible. I’ve been experimenting with Qik, but UStream and other services are available as well.
Interview with Qik co-founder
Innovations in Journalism – live streaming video from mobiles developed by Qik
In the comments at that page: “Tip to Qiksters – buy a cellphone tripod.” I couldn’t agree more.
A post of mine from 2007, some of my earliest interest in mobile journalism came out of the Reuters MoJo lab.
the earley edition – Mobile Journalism Toolkit
Stephen Quinn is a journalism academic at Deakin University who specialises in Mobile Journalism. One place you can follow his thoughts is on the GlobalMojo blog.
He’s a good man to follow if you’re interested in mobile journalism, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.