Turning print journalists into mobile reporters was the aim of an interesting talk I went to the other day by freelance cameraman Guy Degan. I went because I manage a multimedia department striving for quality and don’t like unexpected surprises.
The younger journalists had downloaded the recommended apps before the talk had finished, while the field journalists, arguably those who would most benefit from mobile reporting, didn’t bother showing up. Incidentally, the recommended apps included all of those you would expect, plus a few I haven’t tried including FiLMiC Pro, Pro Camera and Camera Awesome.
My take is simple. Mobile phone footage should be used:
- In breaking news situations such as the London riots where you don’t want people to know you’re filming.
- In situations where you find yourself in the right place at the right time – think that racist woman on the train.
- In situations where you need to publish immediately.
However, due to the lack of practical multimedia experience within the decision making executives and editorial teams of most large organisations, I believe we’re about to see a huge surge in mobile phone footage shot by print journalists. And we all know what happens next, multimedia producers like you and I get given the footage and asked to turn it into something usable. But you can’t polish a turd can you?
Over the past few years this has been happening more and more. Those occasions where a multimedia producer isn’t available, or the ever frequent scenario where a print journalist doesn’t want you riding on their free ticket and an editor suggests they film it on their mobile phone, flip camera or even a DSLR. We’ve all seen the results and it reflects badly on both the title and the given multimedia team striving for quality.
During his talk Guy cited the film below as an example of a great package shot and edited using mobile apps.
Yes it looks pretty good to me too, but I suspect this was shot by a multimedia producer, not a print journalist. And crucially I think this took a long time to produce and therefore isn’t a realistic example of what will actually be delivered from the timescale editors want spent on a story.
Don’t get me wrong, mobile phones are a very useful tool for both capturing breaking news clips, recording audio and social networking etc. but let’s not start using them as an alternative to quality filmmaking.
Personally I think mobile phone footage should be published on a different platform, perhaps YouTube, Twitvid or within blogposts – therefore making a distinction between the quality video content on the companies digital platforms. That way mobile footage would also reflect the “yesterday’s news” attitude of the dailies.
The way the industry’s headed, a quality product shot by multimedia producers, which can be syndicated and therefore make the company money, could drown in a sea of crap footage. Decision makers need to make the distinction, that we chose broadcast journalism, multimedia journalism or filmmaking as our specialisms. Print journalists chose words.