Journalism in a bag

By Ren LaForme

I’m quickly discovering the pros and cons of “backpack journalism.”

YNN was crazy when I got there on Monday morning. Four teens connected to the Williamsville-Central School District had just died in a car accident and all of the news stations were scrambling to get the best story.

All of the other stations had live video of the accident scene and the group of students that had gathered there to pay tribute to their friends.

But YNN didn’t.

The Buffalo station doesn’t have a live truck. They had to wait for the Rochester-based station to send one. The reporter on the scene was frustrated, and so was YNN’s executive editor, because he didn’t have any footage on the air.

In that situation, some unconventional “backpack journalism” could have helped. The reporter could have shot some video and sent it to the station through a laptop in lieu of an expensive and slow satellite truck.

But I’m discovering the downside of “backpack journalism” right now — I’m writing this blog on my iPhone as an experiment.

I can’t type very quickly and autocorrect is driving me insane. I also can’t do research without closing the WordPress app and opening the Web browser, which takes a lot of time. I had to ask Keeley to Google the proper name for the Williamsville district earlier in this article.

I can’t even put the picture where I want. I think it’s going to just post at the bottom.

In a field situation, I could use a laptop with a cell connection, but there’s still no guarantee that I’ll have service in every area. And AT&T still doesn’t allow iPhone tethering for computers (though there is a way to enable it that may violate your terms of service).

This is a great way to get a little information out very quickly, but technology is going to make some big leaps for “backpack journalism” to replace the conventional methods.

I hope that technology doesn’t have autocorrect.

EDIT: It’s impossible to post links on an iPhone, so I’m adding them on a real computer. Everything else remains untouched to preserve the sanctity of this experiment — dumb looking kid and all.


One response to “Journalism in a bag

  1. Ren
    Contnet: 4
    Yes, backpack journalism has its drawbacks, but the world is becoming increasingly wired. Cynthia Wang, who writes for People and who Keeley met in LA, filed all her stories from the Olympics in China from her phone. Mojos still need editors, though. Often they add or modify the ribbons and bells (photos, links etc.) that enliven stories.
    YNN should have sent a reporter with a hand-held. Why not? Quality? But better something than nothing, right?
    This is a good topic for class discussion this week.
    Links: 3

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