Using technology to tell stories

TechnologyI have become increasingly interested in how technology can be used by journalists to help tell stories. I believe it is an exciting time for journalism, with smart phones offering an array of powerful tools for journalists in the form of high-definition video, a decent camera and the ability to edit on the move. Mobiles allow a level of intimacy that isn’t possible with a camera crew, not to mention it is the one device that is always on you, thus allowing you to capture events as they unfold with ease.

Previously I have only really used my phone for work to provide live coverage of events on social media platforms such as Twitter. However, I am keen to explore the potential of mobile journalism.

Reading through Journalism, Media and Technology Predictions 2016, a document from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism that looks at some of the technology and upcoming trends within the industry, it is interesting to see where experts anticipate the profession to be heading.

There appears to have been an explosion in the use of 360 video and photos following the introduction of products such as Google cardboard, which effectively turns your mobile device into a means to experience virtual reality (VR). Although this is a very simple way of using VR compared to products such as the Oculus Rift, it has allowed VR to be accessible on a mass scale, due to it only costing a few pounds. The technology is still in its relative infancy, but the possibilities in terms of journalism are obvious, as it allows for a means of immersive storytelling that wasn’t possible before. Organisations such as the BBC and New York Times have already had fantastic results.

Additionally, there is a huge array of free or cheap online tools and apps that can be used to enhance and help tell stories, especially if these stories are published online. For example, StoryMapJS is a free tool to help you tell stories by highlighting the locations of a series of events, while TimelineJS enables you to build interactive timelines using Google spreadsheets. The image used in this post was created with Adobe Post, a free app specifically designed to create ‘social graphics’ and spruce up blog posts. These are just a few of the hundreds of tools available to journalists, many of which are free.

As a result of this new found interest of mine I thought it would be fun to keep a blog covering my foray into mobile journalism, as well as experiments using various multimedia tools. I therefore plan to post examples of these tools in action in the hope of improving my overall mobile journalism skills.

Watch this space…

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