Reuters finds its 'mojo' with pioneering mobile handset

Journalists at Reuters are among the first to use pioneering technology that enables reporters to write text, take and edit pictures and record video – all from a mobile phone.

The international news agency has teamed up with mobile phone company Nokia to create software for the N95 phone, which allows journalists to make multimedia stories and send them via email.

Reuters said the souped-up N95 could create ‘broadcast quality’video and had the capability to upload stories straight to the web.

The mobile journalism (‘mojo”) project is still in its testing stag,e but Reuters journalists have already been using the N95 to report over the summer. Matt Cowan, media correspondent for Reuters TV, used the device to report from this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival and interviewed internet developer Vint Cerf.

Cowan, a broadcast journalist, said: ‘It’s easy to use. As someone who is used to working with a big camera, this is a different kind of experience: it fits in your pocket.

‘What’s amazing is that you can sidle up to someone and take pictures and video, which people find surprising. It has real potential to capture people’s thoughts in places where you would not have a full crew. Its portability is what makes it so exciting.”

Cowan, who has been giving his feedback to Nokia, admitted that many other ‘smartphones’have similar capabilities, but this differed in that it was ‘built for journalists”. He also said the new technology benefitted broadcast journalists by being less intrusive than traditional cameras and microphones.

The N95 comes equipped with a five megapixel video and stills camera capable of taking 30 frames per second. It also has a digital stereo microphone and can support video and picture editing.

The new technology combines these facilities into one programme and tags stories with the date, time and location using global positioning system technology. For the project, reporters were given an N95, a tripod, a near full-size keyboard, a microphone and a solar panel charger.

Nic Fulton, chief scientist at Reuters Media, said: ‘By running on handheld devices rather than on bulkier laptops, the mobile journalism application enables us to create complete stories and file them for distribution, without leaving the scene. This saves time and benefits our audience by ensuring that they receive high-quality up-to-date news.”

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