Canada’s national broadcaster CBC has been shifting its priorities from producing television news to digital content, and the introduction of mobile journalism in its regional offices has been a big part of the process.
In some newsrooms, every journalist is already trained or currently going through training to be able to produce video stories with a smartphone, while others have a smaller number of trained “mojos”, or mobile journalists.
Kyle Bakx is a business reporter for CBC based in the Calgary office. He is a full time mojo, and told Journalism.co.uk the practice has grown in the newsroom after a recent cut in resources.
“Management just decided to push us into mobile journalism and it’s been a big change for a lot of people.
“Cost is definitely a part of it but it's also just trying to make it so that people who are out in the field producing content are producing stories for all the different platforms. They also just wanted to make sure that we're still doing a lot of good journalism.”
Cheryl Kawaja is a reporter based in Northern Canada, covering the arctic and sub-arctic regions. Filming with a phone has offered her access to communities that might otherwise not have allowed traditional TV cameras, but the area she covers is vast and includes many remote locations with limited or no mobile phone reception.
This, combined with the cold weather which affects the battery life of a phone, can make mobile journalism a difficult proposition.
“I’ve been out reporting in -35C. When working as a mojo in particular, that’s really challenging – to keep phones warm.”
Kawaja recently covered the Arctic Winter Games with a mobile journalism team, as CBC wanted to focus on digital coverage rather than its previous TV-driven reports.
“CBC has covered these games for the past two decades and traditionally, I would say TV has been a big focus of ours in the past. Now at CBC we flipped our priorities, we are focused on digital.
“So the challenge this time was finding a way to lead with digital and to do it with a very tiny team, because the Games were hosted for the first time in Greenland which is extremely remote and very hard to get to.”
Kawaja was the producer on the team, and together with four mobile journalists, some of them very new to the practice, produced 50 videos over the duration of the games. The team worked in two languages covering three platforms for the week.
“The challenge was to find a new workflow that would serve all of our platforms while doing it with a small team, five time zones away from where we were based. So the workflow we came up with was to go mojo.”
The team liveblogged and created videos for Twitter as a primary channel for coverage, and published the videos to the different Facebook pages of the local CBC stations across the Canadian North.
These videos were then turned into television packages, with a presenter pulling together the mojo clips and creating a segment they could air on TV. This was in turn used to create stories for the website. Kawaja and her team also reported live on the radio from the various locations of the Games.
“It was a complete reversal of the usual way of doing things, which is starting with the television pack and seeing what else you had time for. So it was an interesting experiment I think it worked well for us.”
Listen to our podcast from Mojocon for more about mobile journalism at CBC and the equipment Kawaja and Bakx use.