iPhone Reporting Goes Mainstream

February 9, 2013

By Derek Thompson via NewsLab

The iPhone has become an essential part of many if not most journalists’ tool kits, in part because so many free or low-cost apps make it easier to report with an iPhone than other smart phones.

We’ve written about some of these apps before, but not lately, and things obviously change fast. So it was a pleasure to see today’s journalism chat on Twitter about iPhone reporting cover so many apps and options in one place.

Marc Blank-Settle of the BBC College of Journalism said he thinks it’s essential to get an XLR-mini adapter like this one so you can use an external microphone. But Neal Augenstein, who reports almost exclusively with his iPhone for WTOP Radio in Washington, DC, says he gets unacceptable digital noise from every external mic he’s tried (and he’s tried many) so he uses the built-in mic with a windscreen.

That said, Augenstein did have some caveats about using the iPhone’s microphone.

Augenstein uses Voddio, from Vericorder, for editing and uploading audio and video. He often uploads his stories from Vericorder to Soundcloud, making them easy to share. Here’s an everyday story, recorded and edited solely with his iPhone:

Other participants in the chat favor Audioboo, but Augenstein says it that because it does not allow for editing he hasn’t found it as useful.

Jeremy Rue of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism likes FiLMiC Pro for video.

Other participants mentioned:

ProCamera, which offers separate focus and exposure control for both photos and videos.

CamScanner, which converts documents to PDFs that can be emailed or uploaded to cloud storage. (GeniusScan is a similar app.)

Dragon Dictation, for transcription. Blank-Settle says it works pretty well if you speak slowly, but it’s not foolproof when it comes to transcribing interviews. Kim Fox of the American University in Cairo recommends the Transcribe plug-in for Chrome, but it’s not clear if it also works on mobile devices.

The BBC has been using Luci to report live from the field via iPhone. Here’s a how-to:

Still want to know more about mobile reporting? Check out this field guide from Berkeley, and follow the iPhone reporting adventures of Neal Augenstein on his Tumblr.

My favorite comment from the Twitter chat was Augenstein’s answer to the question of whether people take reporters seriously when they use just an iPhone. “I work in radio,” he said. “They never took me seriously anyway.”

Photo: Wolfgang Foto


  1. Ron OC

    February 10, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    Interesting. I can see applying this to other areas as a means of providing visibility/coverage where it doesn’t normally exist for people who want a more effective means of staying informed.

    For instance, I live in a small rural area where local politics is much more important than one might think. It is dominated by a small group of people with no scruples who lie and deceive in defense of their agenda. This might allow other voices and a means of exposing them much more effectively than email or websites.

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