How Modern Mobile Technology is Changing the Face of journalism

Whilst previous blogs have paid particular attention to the revolutionary effect social media and the internet has had in redefining what it means to be a journalist in the new millennium, thus far we have neglected to consider arguably the biggest change to modern human communication. The smartphone.

Apple sold 46.889 million IPhones globally in the last quarter of 2018 alone, the IPhone itself a product that achieves the rare feat of transcending the brand it originates from to become a brand in its own right.

Our lives are seemingly defined by one word. ‘Connectivity’. It is our ability to access information that we now consider to be a basic part of human existence. We have the ability to be informed 24/7, never missing a news story or Facebook post or single second of someone else’s existence.

This has implications too for the modern journalist. However, whilst it is easy to contemplate the negative side effects this ceaseless demand for new information, content and engagement can have on the quality of the work produced it also opens up myriad possibilities to improve the standard of journalism globally.

Whilst products such as the IPhone mean that audiences are always accessing new information, exactly the same is true for the journalists with the same technology. Whilst on the one hand this means that as soon as a story is published to a website or social media platform, it is almost instantly out of date as new information filters through, the modern journalist can almost just as instantly add this new content to their story.

Whereas previously a story published in a paper, or shared on a news channel, was a fixed reference point that couldn’t be changed until the next day’s paper of news bulletin, online news enables the writer to consistently edit and improve their story to keep it both up to date and relevant. Modern mobile technology means that this can happen at any point, and wherever the writer may find themselves, they are no longer limited by their access to a desktop PC or laptop.

The quality of modern mobile camera technology means that journalists in 2019 are not restricted simply to textual updates. The high quality camera technology virtually anyone with access to a mobile has, enables writers to share immersive real time imagery and photography and bring the story to life.

Mark Settle, a smartphone reporting trainer who works for the BBC, argues that, “The smartphone enables the journalist to always be a journalist”. So, whilst the audience is always engaged and actively searching for new content, the journalist is likewise always enagaged and producing this new content.

Settle perceives connectivity, storage and power to the be the three most critical aspects when it comes to using mobile devices to stay up to date and consistently produce quality content on the move. Whilst these three aspects are also the three critical limitations of reporting with a device such as the IPhone, all can be overcome with foreword thinking and planning.

WiFi and mobile data connectivity is in a constant process of expansion globally, meaning that staying online is something most take for granted. You are no longer limited to set locations to be able to access the internet and news on the move, and if you aren’t able to get connected in one location it is highly likely you will be able to somewhere nearby.

Storage capacity on smartphones is also in a constant process of improvement, and mobile hard-drives allow journalists to carry much greater storage space in their jacket pocket. The same is true when it comes to battery life, as I type this piece my phone is being charged via a portable charger that I can fit into my pocket.

With these downsides counteracted, the positive implications that smartphones can have on the work of the modern journalist are seemingly limitless. They can be better informed, more engaged with their audience and produce content moving between locations. To reframe Settle’s comments, journalists in the 21st Century are always active journalists. They’re never not able to produce and distribute content, making us better informed as audience members and raising the standard of journalistic content shared with the public.