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Emerging Mobile Tools

Mary | February 21st, 2013

As a graduate student in Journalism, I have spent the last five years hearing about how as journalists, we are on the cusp of something amazing and terrifying.

WVUncovered is a class where we are constantly trying out new tools and strengthening ourselves in areas that are not our expertise. Learning to adapt to new forms of media is a skill every new journalist must have; our profession is in no way stable and doesn’t look like it will ever be.

The Internet and Mobile are two separate things, and while we are still coping and attempting to find our place as journalists on the Internet landscape, mobile is interrupting.

Change isn’t necessarily bad; on the contrary, change brings out innovators and new forms of journalism. Years ago we couldn’t have possibly envisioned the work one-man-bands could bring us in television news. But steering away from huge ideological and social issues that can be and are discussed for hours at any J-school and newsroom across the country, let me focus on this.

While the platform for news consumption is changing, so are the tools for news gathering.

Mobile tools are amazing. With the recent emergence of “Vine,” (sorry Android users) I’ve seen the medium I love most come to life in social media. If you follow @WVUncovered on twitter, you may have noticed a number of posts with Vine links thanks to our lovely VISTA Kaitlynn Anderson.

I’ve heard different reviews of photo sharing services like Instagram and burning hatred vs. indifference from photographers. I have heard print journalists who love blogs as a platform and others who believe they will destroy print media’s readership.

I’ve yet to hear the negatives about vine from broadcast journalists, but maybe that is because the platform has such limitations.

This is not the end of my mobile love. Because serious reporting doesn’t happen in six second intervals, but there are tools for serious reporting on mobile platforms.

Enter audio production. Really, an audio recorder that provides a decent sound was something I was curious about. So I searched, read articles, and embraced my budget (which is nothing). And after several failures, I finally happened upon the Hindenburg Lite.

The free app allows you to email yourself recorded audio files and you can watch levels while recording. I’ve had some trouble with the marker’s it claims to provide (where you can mark the audio when something important is said), but for basic audio it’s impressive.

Now I’m not saying my iPhone can replace the sound collected with a good mic and audio recorder. But it is coming miraculously close, and for natural sound or on-the-fly interviews, it more than cuts it. My main complaint is it will not record calls.

I’m also addicted to my mobile Google Drive. Google drive is great in the first place, for sharing documents, and for someone who bounces from computer to computer like I do, it makes life so much easier (Macs and PCs don’t like to talk for me for some reason. I’ve formatted my drive but this just takes the guesswork out.

The mobile app for Google Drive is amazing. It includes a folder for your shared documents and is an easy, clean, user friendly design. I have zero complaints, which is something new for me. It’s even great for taking notes because its saves automatically.

These are just a few of the mobile apps designed to make our lives as journalists easier, and the field is just developing. And while the consumption of our content is changing, so should our tools. What are your favorites? Do you have an opinion on Vine?

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