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February 03 2012


#newsrw: Three pieces of advice for mobile reporting from Sky’s Nick Martin

Sky News correspondent Nick Martin gave three pieces of advice to those looking to get into mobile reporting at news:rewired – media in motion.

He identified how essential it is that journalists are engaging in mobile reporting and shared some of his experiences reporting from various stories using just an iPhone, including the London Riots.

Nick Martin also highlighted the importance of investigating accessories that can be added to enhance the quality of video and sound. One example he showed was an adapter to be able to plug in an XLR cable to record high quality audio.

Martin’s one big piece of advice is to practise. The key to getting better with mobile reporting is to “take the rough with the smooth”.

He also advised beginners not to panic. While it can seem daunting at times, Martin showcased examples where there was no choice but for reporters to get involved with recording video from their mobiles, such as when reporting from numerous locations on one story with only one cameraman. Martin told a story of how he was covering the deportation of two buses of illegal immigrants in America with one cameraman. They each went on one bus and it was his bus that gave the more interesting story – “like a scene from Scarface”. Martin was left with no choice but to use his iphone footage.

Martin’s final piece of advice was to use mobile reporting only when it was appropriate. He said it is not worth setting up a tripod and XLR cables for an iPhone when the cameraman is just five minutes away and time could be much better spent working out the story and what has happened.


LIVE: Session 2A – Mobile reporting

Most journalists today carry on them a tool which can not only record interviews, capture video or images and file reports, but carry out many more advanced tasks, including tracking social media, editing audio and video packages, and searching for contacts geographically. It is, of course, a mobile phone and this session will provide delegates with examples of the key tools and skills journalists can use to make the most of their mobile when reporting.

With: Paul Gallagher, head of online content, the Manchester Evening News; Nick Martin, Sky News correspondent; Ben Fawkes, audio content manager, SoundCloud; and Christian Payne, social technologist, mobile story maker.


“record is the new QWERTY!”


Sound Cloud integrates with Storify – some journalists curated collections of audio ‘notes’ and clips of Occupy Wall Street which went viral.


He’s showing us how Sound Cloud allows users to add meta data, such as images, text and geotag, to audio.


We’re now hearing from Ben Fawkes, audio content manager from Sound Cloud.


Uses Report-It and Bambuser for live broadcasting audio and video.


He’s showing off a nifty iPhone tripod. Provides stability and a base to clip on microphones, etc.

But he says even these were inappropriate during the riots, when he saw cameramen assaulted and their equipment stolen. Sky cameramen were told to stay slightly outside while the reporters went into the action, armed only with inconspicuous mobile phones.


He encourages journalists to PRACTISsymbolise reportage – practice makes perfect! – but also to use equipment that will enable better reporting, such as an iPhone tripod and add-on microphones/XLRs.

But, he says, you need to “take the rough with the smooth” when it comes to mobile reportage. Telling the story is the most important thing and, for Sky News’s rolling news, to tell the story AS it happens.


He’s showing us footage shot during the riots using only an iPhone.


Now we’re hearing from Nick Martin, Sky News correspondent. He’s talking about using apps such as Skype as a way to get material back to the newsroom as fast as possible.


MEN has used Bambuser for live streaming mobile video.



MEN offered a prize to the journalist who could produce the most-watched video. One offering included a “virtual bumpy ride along Oldham’s most potholed ride” with thecombine camera strapped to the bottom of his car!
Another reporter captured the arrest of a protestor at the student fees protest. A commenter on YouTube identified the arrestee as a lecturer in political violence, providing a great follow up story.
During the August riots, journalists and TV crew vans were attacked. Mobile phones were a great way to capture footage while blending into the crowd.


The Evening News has used geotagging to tol news stories such as road accidents and congestion, as well as following coach loads of City fans on their way to the Manchester United v City clash – helped to build up the atmosphere!



Journalists can curate liveblogs which include video and photos. Has enabled the Evening News to capture breaking stories such as protestors storming a council meeting.



Paul Gallagher, head of online content at the Manchester Evening News, is appearing via Skype thanks to the train cancellations!

He says it’s impossible for journalists to do their job properly without a smartphone. The Manchester Evening News uses mobile-shot photos from its journalists even in the print edition. They are also used to continuously update online galleries of events such as the public sector strike.

May 27 2011


#newsrw: ‘It’s almost as if the liveblog is the new home page’

Far from being the death of journalism, it is almost as if the liveblog is the new home page if it central to the coverage signposts to the rest of the coverage, according to Matt Wells, blogs editor of the Guardian.

Liveblogs are Twitter for people not on Twitter, panelists agreed in the fourth and final session at news:rewired – noise to signal, who demonstrated that liveblogging has not been killed by Twitter, as has been claimed.

Matt Wells, blogs editors, the Guardian responded to criticism that suggested journalism should only follow the the tried and tested format of a news story.

The inverted triangle is the single reason why journalism is so mistrusted and the search for the top line encourages sensationalism, Wells said

Liveblogs are good for stories that don’t have a beginning and an end, Wells explained, and cited the example of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation from the Egyptian presidency.

“Liveblogs can’t be printed, you can’t broadcast them on television or on a radio station. They only work on a digital screen.

“It’s the only format that has developed specifically for the digital media,” Wells said.

He responded to Tim Montgomery’s claim that “Twitter has killed live blogging,” giving this as a reason for not live blogging the AV vote.

So what is next for the Guardian’s live blogs? Wells said the team is working on ways to better signpost liveblogs, better navigation and to make it “easier to get out of if you don’t want to be there”.

Users want to read a live blog in different ways.

“Show me it from the start, show me it form the latest post, show me the best posts,” is what Wells is hearing from readers.

Alan Marshall, head of digital production at the Press Association, said liveblogging is bridging the gap between the PA wire service and other products

“It’s a natural extension of what PA has been doing for a long time,” he said.

PA uses ScribbleLive and reporters can file via Twitter, email, smartphone, which interact with the CMS.

Marshall used a liveblog of the Royal Wedding as an example and one he described as “a real watershed for PA”.

PA’s Royal Wedding liveblog was used by its customers, including Yahoo and Newsquest, both companies were able to integrate their own users content and comments onto their sites.

Reporters sent reports, including observations filed by Twitter, and the “the bits that don’t make the wire”.

Paul Gallagher, Manchester Evening News, explained how the MEN started liveblogging with an English Defence League rally in 2009. It received 3,000 comments and gratitude from readers for the information.

MEN has produced 30 liveblogs during the past 18 months, including reporting from all council meetings, and some liveblogs have resulted in a spike in web traffic, including the Manchester City parade celebrating its recent FA cup win.

“Every single person in our newsroom live blogs,” Gallagher explained.

As well as being popular, liveblogs result in people spending longer on the site which has led to people requesting for email alerts giving “the potential for a better profile of our audience”, he said.

Anna Doble, social media producer, Channel 4 News, gave the example of liveblogging the budget including a video comment of Faisal Islam from his desk, surrounded by piles of paper and not in a suit, who gave analysis while chancellor George Osborne was still on his feet.

The liveblog also included the “real person on the street” by inviting a carer, a mother and a student to post.

Doble also discussed liveblog following the death Osama bin Laden, and how it made use of the huge video resource of Channel 4 News.

She demonstrated increased audience engagement explaining that a farmer living near Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan contacted Jon Snow via Twitter and is now a regular contributor providing updates now the journalists have left the scene of the news story.


LIVE: Final session – Is liveblogging rewriting journalism? #newsrw

We have Matt Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow final session ‘Is live-blogging rewriting journalism?’, below.

Final session features:Matt Wells, blogs editor, the Guardian; Paul Gallagher, head of online content, the Manchester Evening News; Anna Doble, social media producer, Channel4 News; Alan Marshall, head of digital production, Press Association. Moderated by Marcus Warren, editor, Telegraph.co.uk.

October 14 2010


Manchester police tweets – live data visualisation by the MEN

Manchester police tweets - live data visualisation

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have been experimenting today with tweeting every incident they deal with. The novelty value of the initiative has been widely reported – but local newspaper the Manchester Evening News has taken the opportunity to ask some deeper questions of the data generated by experimenting with data visualisation.

A series of bar charts – generated from Google spreadsheets and updated throughout the day – provide a valuable – and instant – insight into the sort of work that police are having to deal with.

In particular, the newspaper is testing the police’s claim that they spend a great deal of time dealing with “social work” as well as crime. At the time of writing, it certainly does take up a significant proportion – although not the “two-thirds” mentioned by GMP chief Peter Fahy. (Statistical disclaimer: the data does not yet even represent 24 hours, so is not yet going to be a useful guide. Fahy’s statistics may be more reliable).

Also visualised are the areas responsible for the most calls, the social-crime breakdown of incidents by area, and breakdowns of social incidents and serious crime incidents by type.

I’m not sure how much time they had to prepare for this, but it’s a good quick hack.

That said, I’m going to offer some advice on how the visualisation could be improved: 3D bars are never a good idea, for instance, and the divisional breakdown showing serious crime versus “social work” is difficult to visually interpret (percentages of the whole would be more easy to directly compare). The breakdowns of serious crimes and “social work”, meanwhile, should be ranked from most popular down with labelling used rather than colour.

Head of Online Content Paul Gallagher says that it’s currently a manual exercise that requires a page refresh to see updated visuals. But he thinks “the real benefit of this will come afterwards when we can also plot the data over time”. Impressively, the newspaper plans to publish the raw data and will be bringing it to tomorrow’s Hacks and Hackers Hackday in Manchester.

More broadly, the MEN is to be commended for spotting this more substantial angle to what could easily be dismissed as a gimmick by the GMP. Although that doesn’t stop me enjoying the headlines in coverage elsewhere (shown below).

Manchester police twitter headlines

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