Trick or treat: What works and what doesn't in mobile technology

By Allison Inglebright

Judd Slivka, from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, spoke during the 2017 MobileMe&You conference about how to decide what gear newsrooms need to best equip mobile journalists.


In this day and age, cell phone use in America is nearly 100% ubiquitous, and smart phone use isn’t far behind. Journalists are being told to use their phones to capture and tell the story.

Newsrooms have to find a balance between making sure their reporters have the gear they need for their everyday assignments without going over budget. Mobile journalism can be economical if newsrooms purchase the correct equipment.  When deciding on what gear to purchase, editors need to think about their use cases and their edge cases.

A use case is what reporters are doing the majority of the time, and the edge case is what they are rarely doing. Newsrooms should fund equipment for their use cases rather then their edge cases.

The typical use cases for a mobile journalist are correcting shaky cameras, gathering information on a mobile phone and composing it somewhere else, editing and publishing from the phone and adding value to stories.

Slivka gave five tips for mobile journalists:

1) Clean your mobile lens – There are a lot of different things floating around in your pocket that come in contact with your mobile lens

2) Turn off notifications – push notifications will cause your video to stop recording

3) Turn on airplane mode – Unless you’re livestreaming

4) Shoot in the orientation that is appropriate for where it’s going to be published – if it’s going to be published on Instagram stories it’s okay to shoot vertical

5) Take three steps closer

When purchasing equipment it’s best to start small, then work your way up. You don’t need to start with the best and most expensive equipment.