'All reporters need to do is hit the orange button'Credit: Image courtesy of SoundCloud
It has "revolutionised our newsgathering process", Martin Jefferies, chief reporter for Kent Online, told Journalism.co.uk.
A year ago the family-run publisher, which owns local newspapers including the Kentish Gazette and Kent Messenger, kmfm radio stations and Kent Online, handed eight iPhones to its newsdesks across the county with the aim of giving journalists a tool to easily gather audio and video.
It added the SoundCloud audio recording app so that "all reporters need to do is hit the orange button", Jefferies said.
Reporters then upload the recorded interview to SoundCloud using the "private" option and the audio is available immediately for the Kent Online, kmfm radio stations and the print journalists based in the newsrooms across the county.
"The audio is back in the [radio] studio in two or three minutes", Jefferies said, and the audio that provides clips for the radio bulletins and quotes for print and online.
Before the group made the move to iPhone and SoundCloud, reporters would use an audio recording device and take it back to the newsroom to upload the audio.
If a reporter travelled from the multimedia newsdesk in Medway to Dover it would be a two-and-a-half-hour round trip to drive there, record andinterview and drive back, Jefferies said. "Now we are on air or online within the hour."
Asked why the news group does not make the audio publicly available on SoundCloud, Jefferies said that although they like the idea of giving its audience access, there is concern that competitors may scoop an exclusive. "It is not so much of a problem with breaking news," he added.
The KM Group newsdesks are also shooting video using the iPhone. Jefferies said that for planned pieces they use a more professional camera, tripod and boom mic, but reporters use the iPhone to film breaking news, shooting from three or four different camera angles.
So how did traditional hacks with a print-first mentality respond to the addition of iPhones and multimedia responsibilities?
"Really well, it was surprising," Jefferies said. "When they had the Marantz [an audio recording device] and video cameras in the newsrooms the problem we were having was that they didn't use them regularly and there was perhaps a month between uses. When they had to pick one up and take it into the field it was quite daunting.
"But now they know they can shoot video as it's just like using a mobile phone and a lot of people have iPhones anyway. We made a guide on how to use SoundCloud but there have been no problems at all, they are really embracing it."
And now the editorial director has seen the benefits, other "key members of staff", including the court reporter, business editor and political editor, are being handed iPhones. "It's also great that they are relatively inexpensive," Jefferies added.
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