In developed countries, mobile journalism (mojo) primarily represents a new form of competition as well as an expansion of opportunities. It offers more flexibility and might be a way to cut down on expenses. In other countries though, smartphone journalism might have a much higher relevance, maybe even with an explosive touch: to actively participate in transforming a country.
Let us have a look at Myanmar as an example, a country that was subject to a fascinating transformational process. After a decades-long military regime, the country democratised and the power is now slowly (for some people too slowly) coming back to the people. This has an influence on the media, too. For years, the public TV station MRTV was the only voice of the Burmese.
Very early on, media development charities such as BBC Media Action started to train journalists who independently produced radio and television in addition to public broadcasting services.
The problem: in Myanmar, independent journalists don’t have the financial resources to purchase VJ-cameras, not to mention television technology.
In 2014 the former program director of BBC Media Action in Myanmar, Clare Lyons, started a "moeljo"-program: "mobile election journalism".
Android smartphones have been widely used in Myanmar, and they have been good enough to produce TV reports for a while now.
Mobile journalism enables journalists there (among them are many bloggers) to be a free, independent voice that exists next to public broadcasting for the first time.
Mobile reporters and trainers who worked in African countries (Kenya for example) with journalists left with similar impressions: smartphone journalism makes a huge difference in these countries. It puts the theoretical freedom of expression into actual practice.
Ivo Burum, a so-called "dinosaur" of the mojo movement, took the first steps of this media development work in Australia after working for the Australian station ABC for several years.
In the project "NT Mojo" he taught mobile journalism to nine members of the indigenous community and gave them the opportunity to share their interests with a bigger audience.
Burum also educated members of minority groups in other parts of Australia and in Indonesian Timor. It was the smartphone that finally put the participants of his projects in the position to report with images and sound.
His mojo projects are not only aimed at trained journalists: Burum also sees "citizen journalism" as a promising approach.
Mobile journalism is more than iPhone journalism – this statement is of particular importance with regard to developing countries.
In recent years, the iPhone has pressed ahead with the development. Now Android phones, which are much more common in developing countries, need to measure up. They are often the only device that allows journalists to produce video content.
This piece is an extract from Mobile storytelling: A journalist's guide to the smartphone galaxy, by Björn Staschen and Wytse Vellinga, republished here with permission. The book is available as paperback and ebook on Amazon, and as an ebook on iTunes.
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