in Applications, Innovation, Services

Want To Be A Citizen Journalist? Fire Up Your Mobile Phone Camera!

Mobile phones equipped with high quality cameras are getting very popular and affordable in the last few years. It is not uncommon to find 5 megapixels cameras able to produce high quality pictures and videos.20080131n95.jpg

If in the past it was hard for journalist to produce content while on the move without the support of professional equipment and staff now they have the option to capture important events live using their mobile phone. And you can, too.

Last October, Reuters teamed up with Nokia and ComVu to produce a “Mobile Journalism Toolkit”. That was a combination of hardware and software both on the mobile phone and on the Reuters content ingestion infrastructure that allowed Reuters journalists to file new reports while on the move.

The packaged designed for Mobile Journalists was made of :

  • Nokia N95 Mobile Handset.
  • Nokia SU-8W bluetooth foldable keyboard.
  • A basic tripod to hold the mobile phone.
  • A Sony microphone.
  • Power Monkeys with a solar charger.

The content of the package is quite interesting. First of all a Nokia N95 has been selected. Very good camera on board, plenty of memory, especially on the 8Gb version, and, most important of all, HSDPA data connection. The original press release does not talk about high speed data but I think this is critical for the success of these kind of application/services.

Reuters provided also a wireless foldable keyboard. Another good indication. Probably the text input system of the mobile phone is not fast enough for reporters on the move or, another option, reporters feels more comfortable with a computer like keyboard.

Power Monkeys with a solar charger. Nice handset, nice accessories and the need for a big amount of power to get the things running smoothly.

Another interesting point about the application sitting on the mobile phone was that it was collecting metadata while the journalist was doing his job. The Nokia N95 GPS was collecting informations about location while tagging the videos/pictures/text with the correct date and time in a transparent way to the user.

Here is an important quote from the Reuters Press Release:

Timo Koskinen, project manager with Nokia Research Center, said:”The term ‘citizen journalism’ has been in use for several years, but technological innovations – particularly the introduction of mobile multimedia computers – have transformed the concept. ‘Citizen journalism’ is beginning to embrace a wide range of public engagement with the media, from groups of contributors organized around subject or geographic areas to the casual participation of observers who are lucky – or unlucky – enough to be at the scene of a newsworthy event.”

Reuters built a dedicated web site for the reports coming from the journalist equipped with this.

You can have a look by looking here.

I still did not make my mind up on this last point. From one side it was a simple way to promote this trial giving it a dedicated area in the company portal but on the other side we may think that it was not enough to get into the mainstream flow on news.

Anyway, a brilliant idea.


Reuters Press Release.

The Mobile Journalism Toolkit content.