Reuters and Nokia Research Center have teamed up to advance the usage of mobile journalism with the release of a new mobile toolkit and reporting try-out. Although the initiative is currently aimed at professional reporters, the project has implications for citizen journalists around the world.
In a trial that began over the summer, Reuters journalists were given a lightweight " mobile toolkit " that included a Nokia N95 mobile phone, a tripod, a folding bluetooth keyboard, a Sony microphone, and Power Monkeys. The Power Monkey Explorer was used in Senegal and allowed the phone to be charged using solar power. The toolkit also includes text editing and multimedia capabilities. According to Nokia, "metadata facilities" combine everything that the phone already knows about the story, such as GPS location, time, date and other information.
The toolkit allows journalists to write and publish stories from the field to deliver up-to-date news and instant reporting. The trial involved journalists reporting on everything from New York Fashion Week to the US presidential campaign. Archived stories are available on Reuters Mobile Journalism website.
The implications of the research could be much wider in the long term. Timo Koskinen, project manager with Nokia Research Center, said: "The term 'citizen journalism' has been in use for several years, but technological innovations - particularly the introduction of mobile multimedia computers - have transformed the concept. 'Citizen journalism' is beginning to embrace a wide range of public engagement with the media, from groups of contributors organized around subject or geographic areas to the casual participation of observers who are lucky - or unlucky - enough to be at the scene of a newsworthy event."
The Nokia/Reuters collaboration joins other mobile journalism projects, including Voices of Africa, a project of AfricaNews that we have previously written about. Voices of Africa allows citizen journalists throughout Africa to submit videos, photos, and stories via mobile phone. The project seeeks to make news coverage more democratic by expanding reporting abilities to those who aren't represented by the conventional media with the basic premise that "the bigger the number of people expressing their opinions through that technology, the stronger becomes democracy, and the more valuable is the contribution to good governance efforts in Africa."