Training for Mobile Journalism

Training for Mobile Journalism

Maurice M. “Mo” Krochmal
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0251-7.ch017
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In just over five years, the growth of mobile communication has changed the practice and teaching of journalism in higher education as well as practice in the media industry. New devices and tools are released and adopted in rapid cycles. Social-media platforms thrive in the mobile environment. Journalists and journalism organizations are forced to explore new practices, while higher education works to integrate new methods into its curriculum. The author, an early adopter of mobile tools in practice, training and in higher education, examines the changes that have led to the mobile era, the new jobs now available, and how industry and academia are adapting.
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In 2011, Brian Williams, then the respected anchor of NBC Nightly News, gave a lecture to students of the School of Communications at Elon University in North Carolina about the effect of technology on TV audiences.

“Now the president is competing with the author’s iPad. He’s competing with a 4-year-old after dental work falling asleep in the back seat,” Williams told the students, the university's news service reported after the visit. (Townsend, 2011).

In 2015, Williams was no longer the anchor of NBC Nightly News, banished because he was caught fabricating memories. Williams was brought down because of the very technology he talked up in front of the Elon students.

In 2011, social media was becoming a part of the television production process: Today, a hashtag or a link to a Facebook Page are commonly displayed on the lower third of the television screen. Then, it was a novel idea. The first NBC News director of social media, Ryan Osborne, discussed social media training for employees in an interview with a blogger in 2010.

I have found the best kind of training happens one on one. Simply introducing people to tools and how they can be used to tell stories. Within a big organization, we can have different goals and we want to empower our employees. (Smith, 2010)

One-on-one training might have helped Williams react to the allegations that surfaced about his activities in reporting in Iraq in 2003. But in 2015, Williams, the winner of just about every honor a television journalist might win, was fact-checked very publicly through social media, investigated by his employer and had to publicly acknowledge his errors.

Originally, servicemen involved in an incident involving enemy fire on helicopters had raised questions about Williams’ retelling of events from an eyewitness perspective, but it wasn’t until Williams appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman” was posted to YouTube and then to Facebook that the soldiers had a platform to publicize angry complaints about the anchorman’s recollections. Their comments on Facebook led a Stars and Stripes reporter to investigate, and Williams’ fabrications came to light. (Somaiya, 2015)

Williams’ denouement is a very high-profile example of new consequences in the digital era and the need for training to go beyond one-on-one coaching.

The year 2011, when Williams spoke at Elon, might well be regarded as the dawn of the mobile era, as the expanding popularity of Facebook and Twitter, combined with the growing convenience of always-on mobile, transformed media. Mobile media entered the mainstream via the wide distribution of second-generation smartphones, supported by higher bandwidth mobile broadband networks, and the wider availability of mobile applications.

In 2016, mobile has affected journalism in ways that overshadow the public embarrassment of one high-profile anchor. Affluent society is at an inflection point as smartphone penetration into the U.S. population (Sterling, 2015) matches social media penetration for Internet users, at 74 percent (Social Networking Fact Sheet, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Apps: Software product with limited functionality designed specifically for mobile devices.

Streaming: Media shared over the Internet for immediate consumption.

Smartphone: Mobile telephone that includes computational functionality and digital network connectivity as well as additional functions such as a still and video cameras.

Social media: An emerging application of technology that allows users to create a digital profile and interact with others digitally on various platforms.

Facebook: Santa Clara, Calif.-based social network with over 1 billion members and one of the dominant platforms in social media.

Tumblr: New York-based microblog platform owned by Yahoo, offering social networking as well as distribution of short-form text and multimedia content.

Meerkat: New social media network based on mobile live video streaming.

Digital Communications: Communications reduced to binary code -- 1's and 0's -- for the use of computational platforms.

Twitter: San Francisco-based social network that allows users to interact with each others through short posts and multimedia.

Periscope: New social media network, owned by Twitter, that allows users to live stream video to a global audience.

Mobile Journalism: Emerging practice that integrate the use of mobile technology to gather news and information, under tradition ethics and practices, for distribution to an audience that is increasingly using mobile devices to read and interact with the news and newsmakers.

Multimedia: Multiple media forms used together, not limited to text, photographs, graphics, audio and video.

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