Media outlets showcase smartphone photography

Smartphones are undoubtedly one of the greatest technological assets to modern-day journalism. They record audio, video, and those in the media have been taking advantage of the quality photos many mobile phones can produce.

For example, editors at the Tampa Bay Times have sent photographers on fun photo assignments where they document areas of the community with their iPhones.

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The above photos are taken with the iPhone 4S by a professional photographer who is used to lugging around pounds and pounds of expensive camera equipment. Yet she was also able to take visually appealing photos with a device that she can carry around in her pocket.

The convenience of smartphone photography will inevitably lead to, and has already sparked a movement of reporters taking photos and video on scene with a lot less hassle, and probably more experimentation in photography among reporters who may have otherwise felt too intimidated to delve into the visual aspect of stories.

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Pro journo Facebook pages- where’s the line?

Earlier this month, Harry Deitz, the chief editor at the Reading Eagle, a Pennsylvania paper I interned with this summer, wrote a column explaining to readers the blurry ethical implications of the daily’s reporters’ professional Facebook pages.

It’s easy to see why Deitz found value in writing this column. The mid-sized paper has about 7,000 followers on Facebook.  Their night-time police reporter, Jason Kahl, has nearly 5,000.

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A graphic depicting Jason Kahl, Reading Eagle crime reporter. He uses the picture as his “cover photo” on his Facebook professional page.

How has one reporter garnered such a following? The city of Reading, Pennsylvania, has significantly high crime rates, and as a result much of the paper’s coverage revolves around the violence and drug-related happenings in the area. Kahl, who launched his Facebook professional page in June of this year, has become known for avidly updating the page as crime stories develop. He also interacts with his fans constantly and casually.

While I was interning at the paper I’d often hear conversations concerning what crossed the line when it came to Kahl’s posts on Facebook.  The debates were over many things, such as what developing news could be posted before it ran in print or online.

We have been facing the challenge of determining what is appropriate to post and what is not. We have standards for our print editions that often are not in line with these social media sites,” Deitz wrote in his column. “With our print products, we avoid rumors, we usually wait for official information and we refrain from sensationalizing. With online social sites, it’s so easy to post an offhand comment.”

Now the Reading Eagle has begun to monitor these pages to ensure that the quality and appropriateness of its reporters’ social media posts parallels that of the paper.  One of the copy editors has been assigned the duty of doing so, as well as analyzing and removing questionable posts.

I can only imagine that this is also happening at other papers across the nation. My assumption is that publications will begin to incorporate “rules for the web” sections to their ethics codes. After all, this ongoing debate is one of significant impact for the future of news– once something is online there’s no going back.

The iPhone 5’s reporting perks

As it has with each of its debuts, the new iPhone is causing a frenzy at malls across the nation since it hit the stores last week. Apple fans can’t get their hands on the revamped smartphone fast enough. But for the first time since the iPhone became the must-have gadget a few years back, I find myself wondering how this mini-computer might enhance my reporting abilities.

The iPhone 5, which features a four-inch screen and a lighter body than its predecessors.

According to articles by the Nieman Journalism Lab and BBC Academy’s journalism blog, the iPhone 5 could bring new advantages to those in the journalism field.

Here’s a handful of the new iPhone’s journo selling points:

  1. The 4G network that’s available on the iPhone 5 is about five times faster than the 3G older models operate on, allowing journalists in the field to send material faster.
  2. The camera has a faster “shutter speed”, making it quicker and easier for journalists on the run to get the shots they need. It also has enhanced low light capabilities for indoor and night-time breaking news.
  3. Apple boasts that the iPhone 5 has a longer battery life, an assertion the company makes each time they release a new iPhone. If this promise proves to be true a better battery will be of obvious value to multimedia journalists.
  4. It has three microphones on the front, bottom of back of the device, making this iPhone a more likely stand-in for a quality interview recorder.

Citizen journalism aids news source in justice

 

In the above video, Paul Lewis, special projects editor at The Guardian, discusses two cases in which he was able to contest official causes of death through information that regular citizens released on the web.

Through Twitter, Lewis and his team found 20 witnesses that claimed to have seen newspaperman Ian Tomlinson thrown to the ground by the London police during a riotous protest in 2005, resulting in his death. These accounts were in direct contrast with the information the police department released to the media, which claimed that Tomlinson had died of natural causes.

“For us it was enough to investigate further, dig deeper,” Lewis said during the 2011 Ted Talk.

The Guardian also released a video that showed Tomlinson being lunged at from behind by the police and bludgeoned with a baton, which resulted in an inquisition of the police officer that killed Tomlinson after going viral on the Internet. Tomlinson was later deemed to have been unjustly killed.

“You can’t know everything—this is letting other people be your eyes and your ears,” Lewis said of citizen journalism and its impact on mainstream media.