News reporting and the rise of the mojo

18 March 2010

Mobile phones are changing the way news is gathered and reported and it is a trend that is likely to grow as technology becomes more powerful and the number of mobile phones increases, a Deakin University journalism expert believes.

“With the capabilities of today’s mobile phones, a mobile journalist – or ‘mojo’ – can put together their story in the field, complete with images and sound, and upload it to the web within seconds of it being finished,” Associate Professor Stephen Quinn said.

“Today’s audiences expect a big story to be available first on the web or mobile phone, so filing first for these channels has already become second nature for many journalists.”

Earlier this year, Associate Professor Quinn’s new e-book, Mojo – Mobile Journalism in the Asian Region, was published and made available for download by the Singapore-based Asia Media Programme of the German political foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

In the book, Associate Professor Quinn discusses what it takes to be a mojo. Topics include the techniques of reporting and the equipment needed, the legal and ethical challenges posed by this form of journalism and his personal experiences of working as a mojo. Although the book looks specifically at the Asian region, much of its material is relevant worldwide.

Associate Professor Quinn believes we are only at the start of what is possible with mobile reporting.

“As the technology improves, I think the mobile phone will become a more common and powerful reporting tool. For instance, Nokia has predicted that soon it will be possible to use a mobile phone to shoot broadcast quality video.”

And he says the mojo phenomenon is not restricted to professional journalists. With more than 4.2 billion mobile phones being used around the world in mid 2009 and around half of those phones containing a camera, Associate Professor Quinn said it was likely that someone would be recording news events as they happen.

“While not everyone will use their mobile phone to take a news photo or video, the potential exists for people to be where news breaks and to take a picture of that news.

“As there are many more people equipped with mobile phones than there are journalists, news organisations that embrace this form of citizen journalist reporting can significantly boost their newsgathering potential.”

Associate Professor Quinn believes the developments in mobile newsgathering will have an effect on printed news publications.

“I think print will become more of a niche product. We will still have printed publications because there are people who like the permanency of print. Advertisers, for instance, like the idea that their advertising has an extended life in magazines that are available in waiting rooms and so on for people to read.

“But I think in the future it is most likely that our information will be delivered via our mobile phones and whatever new technology happens to be on the horizon,” he said.

News facts
  • Mobile phones expected to become more common as a reporting tool
  • Citizen journalists can boost organisations' newsgathering potential
  • At the beginning of what is possible with mobile reporting

Media contact

Vanessa Barber
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 1301 or 0488 292 644

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18th March 2010