Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Accessibility and mobile journalism
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Translation: Fairpress
In the last 10 years, mobile journalism has spread rapidly all around the world. In the study Closer to the Story? Accessibility and Mobile Journalism, Finnish journalist Panu Karhunen investigates in what way using a mobile phone can affect accessibility. The author poses the question: Can journalists get closer to the story by utilising mobile journalism? In order to answer it, Karhunen interviewed 11 journalists who stated that they can film stories that would’ve otherwise been impossible to film with the help of a television camera and a multi-person TV crew. They suggest that such journalism can lead to more genuine and intimate journalism as such. Most of those who are interviewed will more likely respond to the questions of journalists who use a mobile phone for the story than they would be likely to give a response to a multi-person TV crew, it is stated in the study.

For the needs of the study, Karhunen organised a field experiment in a shopping centre in Helsinki. The aim was to find out whether journalists who use a mobile phone for filming get more “vox populi” interviews than a two-person TV crew. A total of 400 passengers were approached, and the results are quite interesting: when people were approached by a journalist with only a mobile phone, 33.50% of them gave an interview, while only 21% of them agreed to give an interview to a television crew.

“The interviewees suggested that mobile journalism increases the

overall psychological accessibility and strengthens social interactions”, it is stated in the report.

The study showed that the interviewed people would feel less “intimidated” if a journalist film with a mobile phone or similar small cameras, rather than with traditional television ones and a TV crew.

Examples from the report about the experiences with big media houses and journalists who report by using mobile equipment show that it’s easier to report a story about the refugee crisis by using live stream and mobile applications on smartphones than using large equipment.

Stated as one of the examples is filming with mobile phones during the Arab Spring (2010-2012), when mobile phones were extremely important for spreading information and it wouldn’t have been possible to record most of the stories with a big TV camera.

“Carrying a camera would be risky, I took my cell phone with me as I moved around the country”, said an undercover reporter who filmed a documentary about Syria for Al Jazeera.

In the report, the interviewed journalists say that mobile journalism allows a production of more content, staying at a location and sending news, even sending finished packages to the newsroom.

Although mobile journalism has its shortcomings, primarily in the sense of the poor image quality when it is zoomed-in or when there is not enough light, the author concludes that “media professionals need to choose the best format or method for telling a story”.

You can read the whole report here.

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