Going Mobile

In the broadest sense of the term, I had already gone mobile.

I’m on my iPhone every day for, collectively, hours. I use the Clocks app to wake up; the Weather app to determine my outfit du jour; the Messages app to text friends throughout the day (and night); the Calendar app to schedule events and meetings; the Phone app to call family, friends and sources; the Solitaire app to suppress boredom while I’m waiting in line; the Camera app to capture memorable moments with friends; and the Mail, Facebook and Twitter apps to communicate and stay connected with thousands of people.

However, I’d never used my iPhone to create a complete journalistic story before Tuesday.

I knew it was possible. I had heard mentions of cellphone footage on broadcast news programs and had seen pictures tweeted by journalists that have been retweeted by their employers. And in case anyone in our J2150 class lives under a rock (OK, anyone who doesn’t tweet or watch TV on a semi-regular basis), TV journalist Nancy Loo discussed mobile journalism extensively when she Skyped our class during lecture.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous when I learned we had to complete a mobile  journalism assignment in the span of an hour. When given such short deadlines, I tend to stress out and worry about the assignment more than I should. Because my brain’s thoughts are scattered in terms of what to do first, I take longer than I probably should to produce the work that gets published.

My initial biggest worry was finding a story, but alas, my class lucked out: Tuesday was Election Day, and there were stories everywhere. I ran to The Shack in the MU Student Center to find a small group of students with a teacher. I approached to find out they were part of Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science organization, who came to watch the election results together. Perfect! I asked their permission to take pictures and interview two of them, and I was well on my way.

I ran into a few obstacles as the assignment continued. First, I didn’t have great opportunities for a detail shot. They weren’t doing anything except watching the screens for the results, and the only personal items on the table around which they were sitting were the teacher’s laptop and two beverage cups, so I decided to take a picture of the latter — I thought it would be more relevant than a shot of a laptop even though it would still be a stretch.

Second, people kept arriving and asking me what I was doing, so I ended up taking the time to explain my assignment about five times — time that could have been spent asking additional questions or spending more time crafting my story. This time would have been useful because I only had about 15 minutes left by the time I left.

Thankfully, the process went fairly smoothly after that point. I rushed back to The Maneater’s newsroom (where I spent the rest of my night working on the election issue) so I could sit down and begin to upload my story. I discovered the Notes app has an option to send a note through email, which proved to be infinitely helpful. While my photos uploaded to WordPress, I composed a brief story, and I posted it and tweeted the link with one minute to spare.

Tuesday night made me realize just how beneficial mobile journalism can be when under a tight deadline. It’s a great way to get information out quickly, which would be beneficial for a more time-urgent story than mine. It also made me confident in my ability to be a journalist without prepared questions, a notepad or a camera in hand.

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