Mobile newsgathering best practices

According to Juniper Research, companies delivering news content to mobile devices will make $1.1 billion in ad revenue by 2016.  That’s a lot of money, and that’s why so many news organizations are scrambling to develop a mobile strategy.

At the same time they”re pushing content out to mobile devices, newsrooms are increasingly focused on how mobile devices can help in the news reporting process.

For those using smartphones as a reporting tool, speakers at the Journalism Interactive Conference offered some concrete advice on gathering good audio and video.  Using some of the apps we talked about previously — Audio Boo and Qik — the University of Maryland’s Ron Yaros shared best practices for each.

Using AudioBoo

1. LISTEN to the environment — your phone can’t cancel out distracting background noises, so you have to manage the recording and move your interview, if necessary.

2. ARMS LENGTH to the source (including amplified speakers) — with these small recording devices and no external mic in most cases, you have to get close.

3. EDITING (pause, resume, publish) — you can do “in-phone edits” by using the pause button between responses, and you can publish immediately to Twitter or elsewhere on the Web.  The automatically-generated embed code makes it easy to share as well.

In using the app, we also discovered that you can download the file for editing by simply add .mp3 to the end of the “boo’s” URL on the web and then import it into any audio editing system.

Another point to remember?

“You need short clips when you’re working with a mobile phone,” says Yaros.  He suggests you prepare your interview subject by telling that that you will begin to nod your head when they’ve provided enough information.

For mobile video, Yaros says he’s had good luck with Qik and offers his Top 5 tips and tricks.

Using Qik

1.   ARMS LENGTH — yes, the same rules apply as for audio — you have to get close.

2.  WATCH  THE LIGHT — keep it behind you and look for distracting shadows.

3.  CLOSE-UP — you’re most likely publishing this for a small screen, so wide shots may not work well.

4.  EDITING — try to do as much in-phone editing as possible by shooting short interview clips and in b-roll sequences, if possible

5.  HOLD STILL — small cameras magnify movement, so find a way to keep the camera steady — brace it against something or invest in some of the products designed to make this easier.

If much of this sounds familiar to broadcasters, there’s a reason why.  Bob McCall, a producer for the Associated Press, says that mobile video produced by journalists still relies on the best practices of broadcast.

“Right now, it’s still TV sent to cell phones.”