Mobility

by Jason Preston on June 5, 2009

What’s more important, quality or mobility?

I don’t mean quality as in “is this true and accurate?,” I mean quality as in “does your draft have typos?” or “is your image high-quality?”

I can post to this blog from my iPhone using the WordPress application. I can include photos that I’ve taken with the camera on my phone. That’s pretty powerful.

Imagine if your news staff could spend their daytime cruising through the city, literally, and post stories to your system as they happen. Include low-resolution photographs taken on the fly from their phones.

Are they going to get a better story than the guy in the office talking over the phone? Is it better to have the low-quality photo now or the high-resolution image in half an hour?

{ 4 comments }

1 Norman Harman 06.05.09 at 2:39 pm

“Imagine if your news staff could spend their daytime cruising through the city, literally, and post stories to your system as they happen.”

I’m not on the journalist side of things but hasn’t this been happening since teletype / phone was introduced. And has only expanded along with laptops, wireless networks and smart phones.

“Are they going to get a better story than the guy in the office talking over the phone? Is it better to have the low-quality photo now or the high-resolution image in half an hour?”

It’s not an either or situation. It’s best to do both. I know for a fact that paper I work for has published (online) a phone taken twit pic posted by a reader for breaking news that was later supplemented by staff photos once we got photogs on the scene.

2 Robert 06.08.09 at 5:17 am

Unfortunately research shows that the more converged a newsroom is, the more time its journalists spend at their desks…

3 Marianne Thamm 06.08.09 at 5:20 am

I find that the only way to succeed as a journalist – in the long, long run, is not to Eat, Sleep and Publish, but to Read, Read, Read and Publish…that is the difference between bloggers and journalists. Living through the skin rather than in it…understanding context, depth, history and connection rather than responding to a viseral, literal event……And lastly…not writing for free.

4 Jason Preston 06.08.09 at 10:55 am

Norman – The difference between dictating an article over the phone and today’s connected mobile technologies is huge. You don’t have to have one staffer in the office and one staffer on the scene just to post an article.

Photos can be taken and stories can be written on the same device, and uploaded to the site directly from the scene. Eventually you have to ask…why have an office?

And I think you’re right that it’s best to do both kinds of coverage, if you can.

Robert – “more converged” meaning better friends? FWIW not all desk time is bad, in my opinion. You can get a lot done with the internet today that required trips to the library and city hall just a few years ago.

Marianne – free writing is here to stay, I think. There’s a literal army of competent writers who are willing to put in their work in exchange for visibility. Your leverage is personal brand: how many copies/pageviews will your byline move?

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