Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Tools, tips and strategies for making media mobile

Dec. 13, 2011, 12:20 p.m., Posted by Melissa Ulbricht

Over the summer, MobileActive.org released its Mobile Media Toolkit, a Knight News Challenge winning project to advance the use of mobile technology to produce and distribute news and information. Melissa Ulbricht, toolkit project manager, wrote this post about how the toolkit is making media creation more participatory and portable. 

Understanding how mobiles are and can be used for media production and dissemination is now more important and relevant than ever before.

We have seen the number of global mobile connections reach just over 6 billion this month (according to Wireless Intelligence) in a world with a population of 7 billion. This reach and the importance of mobile devices for the majority of the human population is no longer up for debate. Mobile technology has penetrated nearly all corners of the world and we’ve seen innovative uses of mobile devices in every sector -- from collecting health data, to monitoring elections and enabling citizens to create and share news.

Mobile Media Toolkit launched in July to help make sense of how mobile devices can be used for reporting, news broadcasting and citizen media participation. The free, multi-language resource provides guidance to journalists, citizen reporters, newsrooms and media development organizations on the best tools and strategies for “Making Media Mobile.”

For mobile journalists, the toolkit has in-depth how-to guides on how to create and share quality audio and video content on a range of mobile devices. For news outlets, we offer guides and case studies on how to engage “the people formerly known as the audience” to participate and contribute to your newspaper, radio station or media site.

Our goal with the Mobile Media Toolkit has been to be as engaging, accessible and helpful as possible to those who want to make their media mobile.

The site has already been viewed from over 120 countries and we have just added Russian to the content already available in English, Spanish and Arabic.

We have a monthly newsletter to help you stay abreast of recent tools and helpful tips directly in your inbox. And of course, you can comment, ask questions, or post your own tips and resources to all content or engage with us via Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

The Toolkit welcomes guest contributions, so if you want to have your say about mobile media, we’d love to have you to highlight your successes and challenges in using mobiles in your media work. Check out, for instance, how a popular newspaper in Mozambique uses mobile phones to inform readers on issues of sexual health, to help readers solve problems and to send "open letters" to the President. We believe that mobile strategies and approaches are replicable or relevant from one media project to another around the world. Learning from each other about what works and what doesn’t is key.

We also heard that you want help in making sense of the myriad of mobile tools available. We review the latest and best to help mobile journalists, aka “MoJos” and newsrooms find effective and relevant tools for their work. We also think it’s key to test mobile media tools among working journalists in the field, so we’ve developed the Mobile Journalist on an SD Card. We are working with Al Jazeera to have reporters test specific tools in the field, around the world, while on assignment. We’ll hear firsthand from them on how the tools helped or hindered in their reporting and we’ll make these lessons available to our community online and via micro SD cards. SD cards can plug directly into most phones, so reporters and MoJos can create their own quality mobile content on the go.

Down the road, we plan to establish a “MoJo Academy” with webinars and trainings to teach specific concepts and strategies for mobile media. Look for a Google Hangout on mobile security for journalists in early 2012.