The world is a live feed: how mobile phones are changing the landscape of journalism
Mobile journalism has transformed the way we consume information. With instant updates and live feeds, this digital form of storytelling has caught the world by storm. While portable electronic devices have made this art form possible, the work done by newsrooms, cell phone carriers, and social media platforms alike have supported its continued growth.
A Pew Research Study revealed that as of 2019, more than half of U.S. adults get their news from social media either often or sometimes. Facebook is the dominant source of social media news, followed by YouTube, and then by Twitter. These platforms have become some of the largest funders of journalistic programs and media partnerships.
Carriers are also jumping on board in efforts to support the mobile future of journalism. In early 2019, Verizon announced a collaboration with the New York Times to deliver 5G to the company’s operations. Originally only a newspaper, the New York Times, like many other print papers, has transformed its operations to better suit the changing landscape of journalism.
How mobile journalism differs from traditional reporting.
Social media’s methods of instantaneous communication have brought new expectations to the field of journalism. News today must be live if it is to really evoke the curiosity of consumers. With this, journalists are now expected to be jacks-of-all-trades, capable of writing, shooting, and managing social media accounts.
A culture of instant gratification has taught us that there is no need to wait to receive information. The reality of mobile journalism is that it supplies just that. Traditional reporting, on the other hand, is more limited in its scope as it relies on the few rather than the many. Traditional journalists create discrete and finished products for mass media, while mobile journalists disseminate pieces of the story as they are revealed.
As the fastest channel for breaking news, mobile journalism has a real advantage over traditional media outlets. This new form of storytelling caters directly to people’s desire to receive real-time information. This can pose a threat to traditional journalists who typically take more time to fully develop a story before releasing it to the public. If these journalists don’t publish a story before it hits social media, they’ve lost any potential angle they would have been able to use.
The surge of live media.
Through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, people can easily stay up-to-date with breaking events by means of live media coverage. These platforms offer stories, streaming, and live chats, among other features. While live media may not be new, it is certainly increasing. According to a survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 47% of consumers globally have increased how often they engage with live-streaming since last year.
Mobile journalism is one of globalization’s biggest contributors. Its use of mass media plays a crucial role in informing the public of events happening outside of their immediate surroundings. This interconnectivity provides a link between countries and regions, allowing for the easy exchange of ideas and cultures. Information is now more accessible and worldly than ever before.
Mobile journalism, in turn, has given rise to citizen journalism: the collection and dissemination of information by the general public. Anybody with a smartphone or other internet-connected device may become a citizen journalist. The ability of anybody to be a citizen journalist, trained or untrained in the field, has brought about questions regarding the value of an eyewitness account film shot on a mobile phone and posted on the internet, versus a traditional broadcast on a television network.
Benefits of mobile journalism.
There are many ways by which mobile journalism has benefited society. An obvious benefit of mobile journalism is in the way that mobile devices and social media allow for interaction and communication with the audience. Now more than ever, the public is able to play an active role in the creation of news stories. Through citizen journalism, people can get involved by sharing their side of the story through text, pictures, and video footage. Eyewitness and first-hand accounts bring light to worldwide issues in a way that would have been previously impossible.
The Boston Marathon bombings of 2013, for instance, showcased the Boston Police Department’s use of social media in covering the events as they transpired. Tweets from the department’s Twitter account provided people with an assemblage of information and updates at the tip of their fingers.
Drawbacks of mobile journalism.
Despite all the benefits of mobile journalism, questions of privacy, ethics, and truthfulness remain potential drawbacks of its evolution. Social media can easily become flooded with uncredible or misleading information. Anybody today may film or record audio on a smartphone — but the ability for anybody to post, tweet, or share information creates a lack of control over what is created and disseminated. The accessibility of mobile journalism also means that sensitive or violent content may be released.
Moreover, the quick dissemination of information can be dangerous for people living in countries where free speech is restricted or controlled. Hong Kong protestors must fight to stay anonymous as the Chinese government deems every protest against Chinese rule to be an illegal assembly. So much as being caught on camera could result in extrajudicial punishment. Those caught so far have been met with arrest, violence, and online harassment.