Neal Augenstein

Posts Tagged ‘mobile journalism’

5 years in: How #iphonereporting has succeeded, failed

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

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Here’s the introduction to an essay I’ve contributed to next month’s MoJoCon. An e-book containing essays from all the presenters will be provided to all who join us in Ireland.

This past February marked 5 years since I decided to try to do all my field reporting with mobile devices.

So far, so good.

Many aspects of #iphonereporting have changed between 2010 and 2015 — some for better, some for worse..

As I prepare for the RTE International Mobile Journalism Conference, March 27-28, in Dublin, one clear change is the growing number of journalists utilizing, or at least curious about, using mobile devices for creating content in the field.

Many reporters who still use legacy TV or radio gear for their broadcast packages are supplementing those reports with content created on mobile.

Sadly, it’s become clear that few app developers believe there’s a healthy enough market to create apps specifically for journalists.

While “apps designed for journalists” are becoming fewer and fewer, storytelling opportunities are increasing because of the influx and improvements of general interest apps like Twitter and Instagram.

These and other apps harness the power of the phone’s camera and audio, in intuitive ways that make it easy for anyone to record, edit, and share content.

In my opinion, the biggest opportunity (and challenge) for journalists is to embrace the notion that “old school news packages” are no longer the only way to reach your audience, and that there are now more, and easier storytelling avenues.

A well-crafted report, created on these new storytelling apps and shared through social media, may seem like an extra burden and waste of time for a radio or television reporter, yet I’d suggest it’s a new and valuable way to connect with, and expand your audience.

 

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What do you know, iPhone?

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

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The iPhone is an amazing tool, but it’s just a tool.

This morning I got a reminder that despite all iPhone can do technically, sometimes it’s better to rely on old school technology — the brain.

Yesterday afternoon my wife realized she couldn’t find her iPhone 5s before she left work. She spent two hours retracing her steps, trying to figure out whether she’d misplaced her phone or if someone might have taken it.

By the time she got home she feared it was gone, and was already thinking about how much it would cost to replace.

Her tech-savvy husband (me, smart-aleck) quickly whipped out my iPhone, launched the Find My iPhone app, entered her Apple ID and password, and searched for her phone.

Rats. It was offline, so the app offered no clues on her phone’s location or fate..

After several years living with my wife, I was willing to bet that despite her best efforts to find the phone, it wasn’t lost or stolen, it was somewhere .

We just had to figure out where.

I told my wife I’d come to her office the next day, to help her find the elusive phone.

The hunt is on

Just to play it safe, I activated Lost Mode on her phone. I entered my cell phone number so if some kindhearted soul found it and read the “I’m a lost phone, please press this button to call me” message, I could arrange to meet and reward the Good Samaritan.

Since the phone was offline, all this cool stuff wouldn’t happen until the phone tried to connect to the Internet.

A few hours later, my wife got a computer-generated email from iCloud — someone had found her phone near her office.

Yay, technology!

Since it was late at night, I wasn’t terribly surprised the person who found it hadn’t pressed the button to call me. I figured he or she was just considerate, and somehow knew I had to get up for work at 4 a.m.

I was sure we’d get the phone back in the morning.

Uh-oh, something is wrong

The feeling of confidence disappeared when I woke up.

Checking iCloud, my wife’s phone was off-line again. I had no idea where the phone was. Our lifeline was severed.

Zooming in on the map that showed where her phone was last online, I could see it was on a side street, a half-block from her office.

Quickly, my mind transformed last night’s Good Samaritan into a thief — a scoundrel who was no doubt planning on selling my wife’s precious mobile device for parts on the black market.

Dejectedly, I told my wife to check her company’s lost and found, and email me from her desktop computer when she couldn’t find her iPhone, and I would remotely activate the Erase Phone button on her device, bricking it.

Utilizing all the power of iPhone’s location services, I realized there was very little chance we’d get her phone back.

Somehow, we’d figure out a way to buy her a new phone.

Then something technically unexplainable happened — my wife found her phone at work.

It was under her desk, and had been there all along.

Clearly, iPhone’s GPS wasn’t precise enough to depict her phone in her office, yet the information it provided was enough to cultivate a scenario in my head that trumped my original confidence my wife had misplaced her phone, and that it was somewhere, waiting to be found.

I should have trusted my gut, and knowledge of my wife, instead of taking my iPhone at its word.

After all, it’s just a tool.

Broadcasting pro: Change or die

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Change is hard – it’s harder in the world of broadcasting.

With radio and television bosses expecting employees to do more with fewer resources, reluctance to experiment with new technologies and methods of storytelling is no longer an option, says Holland Cooke, whose years of being a radio consultant has morphed to “leveraging talk radio and Internet.”

“Tech is evolving so rapidly now, ‘We’ve never done it that way before’ is pretty much a reason to try it,” says Cooke. “We should do it because we’ve never done it that way before.”

Cooke was the operations manager at WTOP for 7 years, before I joined the station in 1997.

He remembers when a line item for budgets included “batteries for cassette recorders,” and when bulky bag phones were cutting edge technology.

In traditional broadcast industries, many veterans prefer to stick with what they know. Cooke says that practically guarantees those dinosaurs will become extinct.

“I love going to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every year,” says Cooke. “It’s culturally different from the broadcast industry where there’s comfort in the familiar, and best practices that we rely on because they’re time tested old school practices.”

Yet, to be competitive, digital news organizations have to keep changing, even as they’re learning how to incorporate the newest technology.

“At CES, everything that was shiny and new a year earlier is now obsolete – and that’s the point,” says Cooke. “We want to make it smaller, and smarter, and faster, and pleasant surprise, often it’s less expensive.”

No playbook to follow

Cooke says experimenting with consumer-grade phones and tablets and inexpensive applications is far more cost-effective than buying expensive hardware.

“I find some of the tips and hacks on your website real ingenious,  and there’s a community about all this, where we enjoy passing advice back and forth,” says Cooke.

Unlike past years where new technologies went in search of customers, “It’s really the other way around – technology scrambling to keep up with the ways that we need devices to enable us,” says Cooke.

Despite the expectation that journalists be comfortable with creating content on mobile devices, few news organizations teach employees the tips, techniques, and strategies.

“There ought to be more training of the kind that you do,” says Cooke. “You did a lot of on the job training yourself, and I think the experience you have to share is real valuable.”

Cooke encourages the next generation of journalists to maximize and market their familiarity with mobile devices.

“If you want to get hired, present yourself to the digital immigrants – the baby boomers who are radio station managers – as a digital native,” says Cooke.

“College age kids today grew up manipulating this stuff and frankly, folks our age need them to help us translate what we do to that new platform. So I think it’s very opportune to hire young, because there’s a skill set that goes along with that generation.”

Amazon Fire records audio better than iPhone 5

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm

 

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The new Amazon Fire isn’t ready to replace the Apple iPhone in my #iphonereporting bag of tricks, but audio recorded in the built-in microphone of the Fire surpasses the iPhone 5.

In a basic A-B test, the Fire sounds richer than the iPhone.

The Fire does not have a built-in audio recording app (like VoiceMemo for iPhone) so I used the free Easy Voice Recorder app on the Fire and Voddio on the iPhone.

 

The Amazon Fire is only available on AT&T, which provided me a device to test.

Earlier, I found the Samsung S5 sounds better than the iPhone, and I’d give the edge to the S5 over Fire, too.

Unfortunately, since I still haven’t found an intuitive Android multi-track editing app for Fire’s operating system it would be difficult to do a fully-produced report in the field.

Let me know what you think.