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Mobile Journalism is dead


Francesco Facchini
Mobile Journalism is dead

They often ask me to tell what mobile journalism is. Well, now I can say what mobile journalism was. Yeah, you read that right: I wrote what it was.

It was this: it was that professional culture that interpreted the production of editorial multimedia content for journalism or corporate communication made with the sole help of production, processing and coding equipment represented by the smartphone or by production tools that can have with the same direct interaction via plug and play or via bluetooth or wi-fi connection. All in order to be able to realize contents from the unique storytelling (even immersive) and to be able to proceed with the delivery or direct publication in total mobility. The experience of creating the final result is understood to be experienced on mobile devices to facilitate the process of transformation of journalistic and multimedia editorial languages in order to be effective for the use of content from mobile screens.

Provocation? Yes, provocation, but not too much. Mobile journalism and mobile content creation, in 12 years of history (the first stirrings of the movement began in London in 2007) have become big. From the first experiments of the Reuters mojo lab to date, the quality, technology, language and diffusion of this culture have created a worldwide phenomenon.

Against the resistances and against the power of satellite antennas and broadcasting companies, mobile journalism has begun to “infect” the production processes of each editorial office at the four corners of the planet, with peaks of excellence from Ireland to India, from Sweden Australia. Apps, media, microphones, lenses, smartphones (always more powerful and “photographically” equipped) then did the rest, creating an ecosystem in which the mojo is the language of production of stories and news that then they travel on the web and arrive at our mobile devices.

Smartphone is the center of a new world

The world has therefore become a place that informs itself, binds, becomes engaged, gets married, separates, is born (and sometimes kills) through a smartphone. Now the phone is the door through which we look at the world. For this reason I think it is now, for mobile journalism as a technique and as a professional current, to retire. Already, mobile journalism is dead, because this culture that has the smartphone at the center and is expressed in the most varied fields (the award-winning director Steven Soderbergh has already fired 2 films made with iPhones) has become unmarked by the editors and the nerd community of the matter.

The mindset

Now being mojo is a mindset that embraces many products of creation and that represents the root of the change in the media world. The television dictatorship is running out and with it that of the cameras. The era of video taken from reality is beginning also for the story of a news story, a story, a product, a service. Reality enters more easily through the smartphone with which breaks the barrier of hardware that intimidates to get closer to the stories. Much closer. If we count that a generation of small wireless microphones is also being born, well, the new grammar of the video (which is our new written letter) becomes reality.

A new writing instrument

“The smartphone is our pen,” Hosam El Nagar, director of innovation at the Thomson Foundation, one of the institutions that is most committed to spreading mobile journalism, told me during a study trip to London. “It is the pen of our time and we must be able to write well with this pen – he continued – Mobile journalism, therefore, is the culture we need to write, to do well the visual narrative of what surrounds us. Yes, because now we all want to do it. Now making videos is not just for journalists. It is for everyone “. That’s why mobile journalism is dead, because in this world there are 3 billion potential mojoers who want to tell a story. Whatever it is.

Journalism: a backward world in a deep crisis.

The expression mobile content creation better justifies the importance of this culture. For everyone, not just the media. There are apps for filming, apps for editing, apps for making graphics and animations, programs that can work in the cloud, microphones and professional lenses: there’s everything you need to do anything with your smartphone. Everything. From the beginning … to the publication.

It becomes automatic to think that the problem of mobile journalism is continuing to revolve around … journalism, also because first of all, in my project of dissemination of this culture, I am testing everyday the difficulties of changing a world from within backward and in deep crisis like that of journalism.

Of course: I am critical of this world, but I have no intention of leaving journalism. I want to change it and I won’t have rest until I do it.

A new language for change.

Mobile content creation is the opening of framing of mobile journalism that cannot continue to avoid confrontation with media change. Mobile content creation is the tool of media change, but around the smartphone (finally) a real mobile media economy is developing. In this age, in fact, we are witnessing a serious crisis of journalism (in general, but Italian in particular), but also to the flowering of a series of technical possibilities to realize contents that we never thought we could touch with our hands.

Every journalist can develop his business thanks to the mojo.

Every journalist or communicator can be a professional-level producer with equipment below 1000 euros and apps that cost a few tens of euros. And then? And so nobody uses them … because you don’t know the potential of that thing we have in our pockets. Instead, we need to think that there are a number of tools, in addition to those of production, that allow us to create economic value from our work.

Even in the media the smartphone is at the center and is giving birth to something new.

When I talk about work tools and wealth creation for content producers I talk about marketplaces, work required and performed remotely, sponsored creative productions, microcrowdfunding, independently created editorial projects, direct sales platforms for content, but also of new business models.

Already, if the smartphone is our main media then it is worth thinking that a world of media business has already been created (not only represented by the big names in technology) that revolves around the telephone, as a starting and arrival point of the news path. I’m not talking about citizen journalism or social media, influencers or yotuber, I’m talking about all that generation of new apps and new information centers that are giving value to their readers, their communities, their “members” with a ‘direct and one-to-one interaction. Which revolves around the smartphone.

New publishing experiences

The experiences are many: Quartz, The Skimm, Tortoise. Mark these names (and for the rest follow my work because it will be based on these topics for a long time). Want to know what they are? They are newsrooms that have developed such futuristic apps that they represent an important value that arrives daily in the smartphone of those who subscribe.

They have developed interactions with a true community of reference that develops in a virtuous circle of information, culture and world view, with the smartphone at the center. Receiving the journalistic product and contributing to the journalistic product, the reader-actor of this new way of doing media is inside an ecosystem in which he counts. He counts his voice, he counts what he chooses and what he receives in the phone, but also what he tells his media that they have real dedicated conversation channels with the “member”. This is why he wants to pay.

Mobile media economy.

A mobile media economy is being born that gives economic value to the conversation and that finally makes the news reader-actor active. The world of media that makes us passive or limited to some like or comment is over. The world of interactive readers has begun in the process of producing news and enjoyment. And all this is mobile.

In the Italian media we do not see the shadow of all this renewal and we insist on considering mobile an online newspaper that you can read on your smartphone. Even my blog reads very well on a smartphone, but it’s anything but new. We live in a country whose media are in a state of cultural backwardness that makes us doubt that they can ever leave, but we also have a sea of mobile phones available and a land on which we could grow a new mobile media economy. In short, the mobile journalism with its small or large communities, lives an adolescent moment, a moment in which it does not know what it will do when it grows up.

It could even die without a trace.

The only reasonable path is the path that starts from the professional use of the smartphone to produce content, to the development of personal and professional projects related to this language, up to the production of new “mobile” media that bear real value to their readers-members . Among other things we try to take this into account: the smartphone is at the end of its days. It would be better to start the revolution in the use of furniture, before it disappears from under the nose, replaced by some kind of devilish thing to wear.

An appeal

I conclude with an appeal: I see the national and international community crossed by difficulties in relationships, to prevail over personal interests. For my part I will not participate in this game of those who take the paternity of mobile journalism or of those who believe they have the truth in their pockets. I will continue to be in contact with all those who want to have an interaction with me and a coherent and consistent vision of changing the world of journalism.

If we want to continue to consider mobile journalism as a B solution, as a game or as a solution that costs less, we can do it. We can also say that mobile journalism is filming with a smartphone and mounting with final cut. We can also pay tribute to this or that smartphone maker or app or hardware manufacturer. We will lose the possibility of continuing to put together the pieces of this culture of change in journalism. I’m not there and I’m going ahead. I want to change the languages, places, tools and mechanisms of my profession. And you?

Are you there?

P.S. Thanks to Nick Garnett for writing the mojo’s death first. He was right and I was wrong.

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