What mobile journalism should be and why it isn’t

Mobile guru Judd Slivka much of the gear added to mobile devices increases quality and decreases mobility.

Mobile guru Judd Slivka says much of the gear added to mobile devices increases quality and decreases “mobility.”

“We’re doing mobile journalism wrong.”

Judd Slivka teaches mobile journalism at the University of Missouri and says he’s tested more than 700 apps in the process.

So, why is this mobile evangelist down on mobile news gathering as it’s done today?

“We’re trying to use the tools to create TV packages, what used to work in the traditional news culture.  We’re not playing to the technology’s strengths,” says Slivka.

According to him, mobile has four big advantages:

1. Mobile gives a force multiplier effect. Think of a story — tragic or otherwise — where you need to flood the area with assets. Every news staffer with a mobile phone can be used to gather the kind of quick-hit video and interviews that resonate over social media.

2. Mobile gives us a single production platform. Typically we’d report on a camera or audio recorder, transfer a card to a laptop and assemble and edit there, transmit either from the laptop or through a sat transmitter and then watch social reaction via phone or laptop. Mobile consolidates that and reduces time-to-publish.

3. We can go direct to social fast. This is where the brand battle is going to be increasingly won and lost, as flagship products such as newscasts and websites become places for deep story details.  Mobile platforms are built as social tools and can help us get accurate information to the audience ahead of competitors.

4. The app universe lets us build novel content. Content won’t look the same when we build it from a phone — and that’s a good thing. Using a collage app like Diptic or PicPlayPost, still images or videos can be presented in a way that lets the audience decide how they want to interact with the story.  360 Panorama can do an immersive 360-degree shot, for example, to show the breadth of damage at a natural disaster or what a football field looks like at halftime of a big game.

Slivka says we need to be thinking about “mobile made” as a separate content form.

“It’s bite-sized and consumable.”



2 comments for “What mobile journalism should be and why it isn’t

  1. May 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I largely agree with much of this article. One area concerns me when I look at mobile journalism, however. The first is the matter of ethics and accuracy when rushing to publish. Its not that traditional journalism cannot fail but the length of production does offer more time to get things correct. The instant publishing power of mobile journalism is a strength but certainly opens up more opportunities for it to be used incorrectly, as well. I view mobile journalism as inevitable in its mass adoption but also a double-edged sword that requires new practices and education to wield it correctly. Journalism educators need to increase the focus on mobile journalism education and media organizations need to set clear guidelines on how to implement it in the daily grind. How we wield our smartphones is going to be the line that separates us as professional journalists from everyone else.

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