Mobile Devices and Professional Journalism-
Since the print revolution in the 14th Century, the advances in the way we send and receive our information has grown exponentially. From the telegraph to the telephone, the radio, all the way up to the wonder that is the computer, people have continually found new ways to make communication faster and more efficient. Through the many stages of mass communication, journalism styles have continues to adapt themselves to the changing ways we send information. Beyond all other forms of technology the recent surge of popularity in various mobile devices has made information sharing and access to the possibilities of the internet easier than ever before. One can only wonder how these devices with affect the future of Professional Journalism, and what will come behind it.
It’s easy to see the shift traditional Journalism has begun to make. Today instead of picking up the morning newspaper to catch up on the current events, people have a plethora of other information sources at their fingertips. Every different avenue of communication can offer us a different perspective on whatever news they are delivering. While one person may obtain their information through an online news-site, an entirely different opinion could also be found on an online blog. Looking at different social networking sites we can follow a trend that increasingly links the gathering and sharing of information through the simple use of our cellular devices. Sites like Twitter give people the option to keep a constant account of their everyday events, where Google allows you to select specific news topics you want alerts about. Some may argue that the instantaneous ability to upload pictures and stories through the use of “Smartphone’s” endangers the Journalism profession by making a journalist out of anyone with the ability to share information within the public sphere of the web.
A short history on PDA’s:
The Beginning of the Smartphone-
Since there’s no agreed upon definition of what a “Smartphone” is, one could only estimate what device was first too fit into the category. By 2001, Handspring released the Palm OS Treo, which included web browsing capabilities, email, and organizational tools. By the following year the original Blackberry was introduced making the phones more accessible to the general public. With the development of the iPhone in 2007, the public’s love affair with the speed and ease of PDA information sharing became firmly cemented and has only flourished from there. A more tangible example of the popularity of “Smartphone’s,” in particular the iPhone could be illustrated by the relationship between the introduction of the App Store in July 2008, and the fall of profits seen by the Nintendo Cooperation. Game developers who have followed the rising trend to go mobile have been creating an alternative for consumers to the leading handheld gaming platform, Nintendo DS. According to the company, “ In Nintendo’s October 29 earnings call, the iPhone’s competition against its DS as one of the reasons profits fell by more than half last quarter, from 133 billion yen a year prior to 64 billion yen, or $709 million.”
The Journalism profession has not fallen behind on the current trend to take their reporting mobile. On the contrary, a new term known as “pocket journalism” has emerged to describe the mobile uploading of text, video, and photos. Since its inception the idea has received mixed reviews among new-wave supporters of the journalistic style, and journalism purists. Traditional journalism who frown upon the current trend claim that the small design of the device renders one useless when attempting to type crucial quotes, while the lack of camera quality makes pictures obtained worthless for use in any reputable medium. In contrast, in efforts to keep with the changing times many news organizations are mandating that staff have PDA’s in order to insure a speedy transfer of information between the field and the office. In addition, educators in the world of journalism have begun to take notice on the increasing need for the ability to navigate the tools of various smartphones. According to CBC News some universities have changed their requirements for journalism majors. Including the University of Missouri that has made it mandatory for journalism freshmen to take a course on smartphones. In addition, technology that promotes pocket journalism continues to evolve. Many companies are now creating various accessories to pair with the phones including full-sized keyboards, and professional style microphones that are capable of plugging into your device.
Examples of accessories that pair with various mobile devices:
The new found ease in documenting, uploading, and sharing information has begun to change the definition of journalism. Before the availability of smartphones the news was essentially what was given to us through print newspaper or from a televised news program. However, with the introduction of the smartphone a shift in who can report the news has taken place. It’s now possible for anyone with a capable mobile phone to instantly upload information regarding breaking news. New developments including the rise in photo sharing sites, blogs, and what is know as moblogs, or blogs with the ability to upload mobile pictures have added to the sensation. According to the organizer of the first International Moblogging Conference Adam Greenfield, who coined the word “moblogging” in 2002, “All the barriers to publishing that even exist in desktop publishing vanish with moblogging, and that’s amazing.” This phenomenon known as citizen journalism, or open-source news has had both positive and negative effects on the industry. While people are gaining access to news at an incredible rate through the internet, the sources can sometimes prove to be unreliable. There is no filter or codes of contact emplace to ensure that the news being reported is in fact true. However, citizen journalism through use of mobile devices has been an asset to the industry. Thanks to the speed of the internet and the easy access to anyone with a mobile phone, the public is now able to receive their news from a wide variety of sources with a number of diverse opinions. News stations have also benefited from open-source journalism. A prime example of the trend was seen during the bomb attacks on the London Underground and a double-decker bus. Commuters at the station instantly uploaded thousands of photos and dozens of videos as the events unfolded. A huge number of people present gave first hand accounts accompanied with photos before a professional news team could even arrive on the scene. As a result the BBC News Station used a number of the photos and videos to aid their own news stories, even posting one of the photos as the cover page for their online website.
The video below is an example of an incident captured on a mobile phone that made national news:
The following is a link providing additional information on the BBC’s use of citizen journalism:
Furthermore, the new increased flow of information has proven to be a driving force in politics and played a crucial role in the last presidential election. It’s also thought to have widened the political audience, particularly those within the younger generation.
Example of new Moblogging apps for Phones:
The Future of Journalism and Mobile Devices-
With the modern day development of the semantic web, or the ability to build to an ever evolving collection of knowledge and information available on the web via mobile devices, many predict major changes for the future of the industry. News industries and reporters have been forced to change their strategy, and almost all of the major news stations now maintain a blog or chat online. It is thought that this strategy makes the audience feel as though they are getting more personalized information from large cooperation’s. It’s also because of this that many people in the news industry are concerned about the future of advertisers support. The debate over whether charging online is in fact the best path for publishers receives a number of different responses. Many opponents have been vocal in their criticism of the idea of limiting the free Internet and sacrificing advertising revenue. However, according to a recent survey it appears that charging for some online content is being considered by 70% of UK publishers and 58% in the US. Regardless of the funding, a new generation of reporters with the tools to successfully navigate and utilize the capabilities of their mobile devices in their reporting should no doubt have a significant effect on where the industry is lead in the future. Online public news sources and blogs are growing at a rate faster than ever before. Half the world away in Dublin, Ireland, Paddy Holahan, CEO of NewBay Software, believes moblogging will be adopted by professional journalists and amateurs alike.
It’s hard to predict the future of an industry when new developments in technology are happening daily. One could find irony in the fact the journalist’s job seems to be becoming easier thanks to the advent of modern technology, yet the job of the journalist seems to have been infiltrated by anyone with the ability to post information online. It is my thought that the role of a professional journalist will remain safely intact. People will always need a truly reputable source to depend on for their daily news.
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Mathew, Roy. “Technology Advances in Journalism.” Cyber Journalist. Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the University of Kerala,, 25 Sept. 1998. Web. 4 Dec. 2009. .
Lewis, Woody. “Social Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Mashable.com. Mashable, 7 Apr. 2009. Web. 4 Dec. 2009. .
Rutledge, Bruce. “Conference Panelists See Bright Future for Mobile Publishing.” AUSC ANNENBERG ONLINE JOURNALS. USC, 23 July 2003. Web. 12 Dec. 2009. .