(Originally posted on Oct. 8, 2010)
While helping the boss to gather material for a presentation that included examples of how Media General newsrooms increasingly are using new tools, one example drove home why reporters/photographers/videographers should have smartphones with not just photo but video capability. It was not at all an obvious case. The obvious ones are things like hurricanes, major fires, really big stuff that calls for having as many electronic eyes and ears in the field as possible. This one, though, was an everyday traffic accident. The above video from WNCT of a motorcycle-truck wreck seems, on the surface, to have not much going for it. But what made the hair on my neck stand up was how it differs from the traditional print or even TV coverage of such an event. The reporter moves around the scene. The camera pans slowly. If I were from there and drove that street, I could place it exactly in my mind. Still images can’t do that. A bigger, more expensive camera could do that too, but somehow the phone camera provides a sense of immediacy that is much stronger. Or maybe it’s seeing it on the computer screen, potentially minutes after the wreck, that makes it feel more immediate.
News staff without mobile news reporting ability is a waste of resources.
Coincidentally, while I was working on this post, Ryan Sholin — a frequent blogger on the subjects of new media and the future of news — had a post of his own making the same case but probably better. Certainly with more explanation. Summary: “Because we have inexpensive ways to gather and distribute video in larger numbers to our readers and viewers and users in a fragmented audience, equipping a larger number of reporters with easy-to-learn, easy-to-edit point-and-shoot cameras is a logical choice that makes sense for our readers.”