The ubiquitous smartphone has taken the world by a storm. Everything is within the confines of our fingertips. While the novel device has had some sort of an impact on all the facets of our professional life, the one sector that has been revolutionized by its advent has been media and entertainment. The way information is gathered, processed and consumed has seen a sea change. Today, a smartphone can be considered to be an effective combination of a personal computer, a television, a radio set and a newspaper.
Consequently, journalism has metamorphosed into a new avatar. There has been a transformation in the way news stories are produced and consumed. Gone are the days when television journalists would roam about in an Outside Broadcast (OB) van everywhere and carry huge broadcast equipment wherever they went. For print journalists as well, the usage of DSLR cameras is on the wane. Radio journalists no longer carry inconveniently big microphones anymore. A journalist now just carries a smartphone in his pocket and everything is taken care of.
What Is Mobile Journalism?
In the given context, we shall talk about a new genre of journalism that is gaining traction with each passing day. It is called Mobile Journalism or MoJo. Now, the obvious question arises. How would one define MoJo? MoJo is nothing but a format of digital journalistic storytelling that exclusively uses mobile phones. The story can take any form – audio, video, text, graphics, animation or a combination of all of these. Primarily, the product that is created is also consumed with the help of a smartphone. However, this is not a necessary pre-condition. At times, the result of MoJo can be printed on a newspaper or broadcast on a television or radio channel or streamed as a podcast or published on a web portal. All these products may or may not be consumed on a mobile phone. What distinguishes MoJo though is the process of collection and production of news, which is done with the help of a mobile phone or a smartphone to be precise.
A number of news organizations across the globe are turning to mobile journalism as it entails a number of distinct benefits. Let us take a look into the obvious benefits of mobile journalism:
- It Is Decidedly Cheap: All you need to have in order to practice mobile journalism is a good smartphone and some basic associated equipment such as a gimbal, a lapel microphone, a tripod and a portable mobile charger. Gone are the days when a large sum of money had to be spent on expensive journalistic gazettes such as cameras, microphones and the likes. By default, MoJo is minimalistic.
- It Is Obviously Convenient: You can immediately start shooting or recording even when there is a breaking news situation. On multiple occasions, reporters have missed the most important part of a story subject to the rigours of setting up the equipment. The ultra convenient smartphone can be taken out of the pocket in a jiffy and shooting or recording can be started immediately. Also earlier, there was the obvious disadvantage of having to move the entire setup to another location just in case two different locations were needed to be covered for a story. The same can be done seamlessly through MoJo these days.
- It Is Discreet: At times, traditional journalistic equipment could be on our faces. There is a possibility that the subject might feel a little intimidated when a huge camera along with a microphone is thrust onto his/ her face. MoJo makes journalism discreet and shooting or recording can be started without raising an eyebrow. For shooting investigative stories, MoJo is much more convenient than the traditional form of journalism.
- MoJo Has Democratized the Craft of Journalism: Earlier, there was an entry barrier to journalism and not everyone could become a journalist. It was considered to be the fiefdom of the intellectual elite. With the advent of Social Media and MoJo, anybody and everybody can become a journalist. This has ushered in democratization to the craft. Now, we can have a school student beaming an important news story from say the interiors of Arunachal Pradesh and he/ she would have a dedicated audience from across the globe regardless of geographical barriers.
- MoJo Requires Considerably Less Infrastructure and Human Resources: As the world is going through a severe economic downturn, a number of organizations have taken recourse to austerity measures. Given the situation, it is anybody’s guess that the news organizations are also passing through a difficult time. Consequently, there is a decided focus on optimization of resources. MoJo, thus, fits right in. A number of news organizations, in fact, in India and abroad have completely turned to Mobile Journalism. A premier example in India is NDTV, which has gone mobile from the later part of 2017.
Notwithstanding, the necessity of proper education is a sine-qua-non for aspiring mobile journalists. They need to know how to craft their stories and attract audiences. No matter what the platform is, the fundamental journalistic principles remain the same. These principles can only be learnt through a stint at a good media school. With fake news, paid news and post truth casting aspersions on the credibility of news, ethical considerations have become paramount. In the face of it, a solid educational base could be considered to be the most important thing in distinguishing a good journalist from the rest.
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