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Mojocon – How mobile journalism has come of age

In late March delegates will come from around the world to attend MojoCon in Dublin.  It is billed as the first international conference focusing on mobile journalism, mobile filmmaking and mobile photography.  Glen Mulcahy from Irish Broadcaster RTE has been the driving force behind it and its timing could not be better.  MojoCon marks what you could say is the “coming of age” of mobile journalism.  Journalists have been using their mobile devices to create content for a few years, but it is now really becoming an integral part of news-gathering for a number of reasons:


1. Better devices

The early smartphones may have blown us away at the time, but they were very limited in so many ways.  The memory was small, the cameras were not fantastic and the processing power struggled with certain tasks.  Compare that to the last 12 months and it’s almost unrecognisable.  We have smartphones shooting 4k video, containing huge memories or expandable memory.  Overall they are just much more powerful devices.  This means they are being taken more seriously as “proper kit” for journalists.

2. Better apps

Having a good device is only half the battle.  It is the apps that really bring it to life.  I train journalists how to create content on smartphones for the likes of the Eurovision Academy and various broadcasters.  When I compare video editing options we had from even two years ago with today, there is a vast improvement. On iMovie I can have two video tracks and a number of options that did not exist even a year ago(although 25 frames per second export would be very welcome).  There are grading apps, camera apps along with audio, photo and live reporting apps.  The ability to report live from anywhere with an internet connection is  something we could only dream about a few years ago.  Many of these app creators will be at the event in Dublin. (Just check out this video about photography apps)

3.  Better accessories

Whether you are recording audio, video or taking photos, the accessories can turn your mobile device into a very professional recording tool.   A whole industry has now developed around this and they are reacting quickly to bring better and better equipment to market.  A good light, microphone or tripod can do wonders for the quality of content being gathered.  (See Glen Mulcahy’s blog for the accessories mobile journalists are using)

4. Better use of social media

Let’s face it. It was not long ago that most news organisations viewed social media as an annoyance and some chore that was a distraction from doing real work.  Some still feel that way, but the ability to quickly create a steady stream of content for social media is now vital, especially if you want to reach younger audiences.  I own a lot of expensive video equipment. I won’t say how much in case any local robbers are reading this.  What I will say is that none of it is any use to me if I need to quickly tweet, record a vine or Instagram video or post on any social media platform.  This is where the mobile device really shines.  It is connected, has the social media apps you need and is always in your pocket or bag.

When you combine all of these factors you get an exponential improvement in what mobile journalism can offer.  Some of the leaders in the field you might want to look up are:

Philip Bromwell, RTE

Neil Augenstein,  WTOP

Nick Garnett, BBC 

So getting filmmakers, photographers and industry leaders in one place is very timely.  It can spark ideas, build relationships and share expertise.  If this is what we can create in 2015 with mobile devices, with a combined effort, just imagine what things will look like in 2020.

Mark Egan