There's no doubt that the camera in your pocket can help you get physically closer to a story – smartphones are both small and light, enabling journalists to shoot video and photographs in small places where larger pieces of technology or camera crews may have struggled in the past.
But Geertje Algera, mobile journalist and trainer at Geertje Algera Media and former video journalist at the Dutch public TV broadcaster KRO-NCRV, explained that working with smartphones as opposed to bigger cameras can actually help reporters to better tell stories and engage with audiences, speaking at the Mojo Meetup in London on 17 November.
Get to a story quicker
Algera explains that the size and weight of a mobile journalism (mojo) kit enables reporters to cover a story in an instant, without the need to worry about the logistics of a shoot.
"I used to have to book a camera and a crew, and also be wary of budgets, but now I have more freedom – I am always ready to go," she said.
Algera explained that she tends to simply use her iPhone and a Rode lapel microphone to cover stories, sometimes using a tripod for ease, but often simply holding the phone with her hands to get the story out as fast as possible.
Better cover sensitive issues by building trust
"Mobile journalism has opened many doors for me, to places I can go and to people that didn't want to be interviewed before," she said.
It gives you access to people who are reluctant to have a camera crew in their house – people open up easier because it is more intimateGeertje Algera
"I think it gives you access to people who are reluctant to have a camera crew in their house – people open up easier because it is more intimate."
Algera, who has mainly specialised in human interest stories throughout her career, believes mobile journalism is a great way to report on sensitive or personal issues.
"I have done many reports with a camera crew and it has always been very difficult to get people to talk to me if interviewing people on the street – especially women wearing a hijab," she said.
"Often with a big camera crew, there was a suspicion and fear of journalists, but not now. This is the difference to me between mojo and traditional journalism techniques."
Tell more diverse stories
"I want to connect people and explain things to them, and to me, you cannot always do that with a big camera crew," she said, noting that she is often allowed to film in places where more traditional cameras are not allowed.
For example, Algera was able to gain entry into a recent university event which discussed Islamophobia, when three large camera crews from network television were refused.
Although the organisers were still wary of her as a journalist, she was able to produce a news package on the event, which later went viral online.
As well as gaining exclusive access to stories, Algera explained that mobile journalism can help tell the stories that aren't covered in mainstream news.
"I'm all for normal people on TV instead of just extremists or experts – there seems to be a huge gap between the media and the audience nowadays," Algera explained.
"Over the past few years, I've noticed many people have turned away from traditional media, feeling that the world on TV and the content in newspapers isn't theirs – they feel like they don't relate to the people being interviewed in the news.
"Instead, everyone stays in their 'Facebook bubble' of news on their street – but mobile journalism can help to create a connection between the journalist and the general public, making smaller, personal stories with normal people that are more representative of the audience."
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