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What Citizen Journalists Can Do With A Smart Phone

Every reporter — both in old and new media — uses his smart phone as a reporting tool. Nearly all the time, it’s an iPhone. The iPhone incorporates many abilities that make it appealing to reporters. (For those who use Android and other phones like Blackberries, some of this information will be useful, some won’t.)

First, why have a smart phone as a citizen journalist?

  • Portable. It’s always with you.
  • Photography. Good for taking pictures.
  • Recording. Ability to audio record.
  • Video recording. Ability to capture, edit, and post to YouTube within minutes.
  • Ability to keep info from computer locally.
  • Must keep up with breaking news.
Now, what must you have on your phone as a citizen journalist?
  1. Twitter app: Why? Because you need to be informed of breaking news. Good apps include the native Twitter app, Echofon (what I use), Hootsuite, or Seesmic.
  2. Blogging app: Why? Because you might want to blog on the fly. The WordPress app stinks. So use something like BlogPress. Also, want to design a website from your iPhone? Not even kidding, you can do it. Use M.dot. It’s beautiful interface lets you create a webpage from your phone that looks great mobily.
  3. Audio Recorder: Why? Because you need to get people on the record and an audio recorder is how you do it. There are a bunch of great ones including: Quick Voice Pro, iRecorder, TweetMic (to send audio to Twitter), and finally, Recorder (simplist of them all). Soundcloud is an innovative recorder and message share option.
  4. Video Recorder: Why? Because you may just want to catch something good! You can use the video camera on the phone itself. If you ever want to broadcast from your phone (and many, many citizen journalists have done this), you’ll need Ustream both on your phone and on your desktop. Qik will record and send immediately to social networks. Also a must for on-the-fly interviews.  iVideoCamera records and can be edited on the fly and posted to YouTube and other outlets. Nice all-in-one solution.
  5. Info management: Frustrated because that article you need is saved on your desktop? You need to get mobile. Use Dropbox to save your photos video across your phone, desktop, etc. and with other people, too. Evernote will keep all your information in one place. Most importantly, it’s with you so you can access what you need anywhere.
  6. Travel: I know this is tangential, but so often, we’re going to strange cities to cover strange politicians. So, I find Yelp useful (restaurant recommendations) and
Here’s to being watchful!
P.S. Want to learn more to become a better Watchdog? We have all sorts of tools to help you become a better citizen journalist. Check out our resources for YOUR state’s OPEN RECORD LAWS!

Kyle Wiley

Kyle Wiley is a development officer at The Heritage Foundation and a graduate of the University of Georgia. Find him on Twitter: @kwiley1

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Categories: Quick Tips
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