Journalism Mobile

Can a smartphone really be a suitable device for reporters? The BBC aims to find out

BBC News is evaluating smartphones by putting ‘mojo kits’ in the hands of its most experienced camera crews. The project is designed to see, once and for all, whether a smartphone really is a suitable device for daily newsgathering.

“These are people that have been using big cameras for years,” Duncan Stone, senior cameraperson, BBC News, told mojo specialist Glen Mulcahy at Mojofest in Galway, Ireland.

“We wanted to see how they would get on, and found the results fascinating.”

The 15 crews, who applied for the scheme voluntarily, shot footage with iPhones but were also allowed to take their traditional cameras along to each story, just in case they felt they needed them.

“We had a bit of a shaky start,” Stone said. “There was a lot of gear and we were slightly pushed by the crews who wanted at least two channels of audio at first – they were used to four.”

But the project, which will run for three months in total, has been well received. The BBC teams were astounded at what they could do with their phone, including getting physically closer to a story, getting more intimate with interviewees and sending footage back to base quicker.

“For example, when they were filming the Royal Wedding, one of our crews had to go round and do crowd interviews, but get them back to base as soon as possible. He couldn’t film on his normal camera, film or the SD card and get it back to base,” Stone continued.

“He physically couldn’t move because there were thousands of people there. He just used 4G and borrowed open WIFI to send it across.”

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