How to begin with mobile journalism

Advancing the Story recently introduced you to Matt Augustine, a multimedia journalist at WOKV Radio in Jacksonville, Fla., who talked about the power of mobile devices in the field.
Augustine was also kind enough to share his advice for those just getting into the smartphone as a newsgathering tool.
“Start trying to use it in as many ways as you can to slowly phase out (or at least use less frequently) your other equipment,” Augustine said. “Ultimately, smartphones will eliminate the giant reporter bag I currently carry around that contains my recorder, microphone, XLR cables, power inverter, flip cam, digital camera, wireless internet card, laptop, and all the power cords and accessories that come along with them.”
So what do you need as smartphone accessories?
  • A broadcast-quality microphone
  • An XLR cable that plugs in to the smartphone’s headphone jack and connects to your mic
  • Your phone charger
Augustine says with the items listed above, you literally have your entire journalist’s toolbox in the palm of your hand.
“And don’t just think of it as a way to break news,” said Augustine.  “With the amount of information that’s out there and all of the apps that exist to help you streamline what’s important to you into once place (i.e. RSS Feeders, Flipboard, Pulse,, etc.),  your smartphone should be your number one news-gathering tool.”
Augstine also offers a step-by-step look at what he does when he arrives on a breaking news scene.
  1. Pull out my phone and snap a few pictures.  I’ll then touch them up a bit real quick in one of my photo editing apps before I tweet and post to Facebook, letting the audience know that I JUST got on scene and telling them what I’m seeing so far.
  2. I’ll start looking for folks to interview and video/NAT sound opportunities, which I generally keep between 30 and 60 seconds and usually voice over with a bit of background info.
  3. I’ll continue to tweet and Facebook updates as often as possible and when new information breaks.  I generally try to include photos with my posts and tweets to add even more context.

So why do all this?

“If you can master using your iPhone or Droid as a news gathering and news breaking tool and not just a way to tell your news director the press conference is over and you’re throwing your package in the can, you’re going to be invaluable to your media outlet and very attractive to potential future employers.”