Technology has drastically changed the way news is gathered and reported.
No longer are journalists tethered to a newsroom or office; with just a few pieces of mobile journalism equipment, they can report from anywhere in the world.
But with so many options on the market, it can be hard to know which equipment is best and when to use it. This guide will help you make sense of it all.
What Is Mobile Journalism?
Mobile journalism is the new kid on the block when it comes to platforms used to deliver the news.
Some might argue that true mobile journalism is media captured on a mobile device such as an iPhone.
While smartphones are certainly popular among mobile journalists, the “mobile” part of “mobile journalism” really refers to the freedom and portability of the reporter and their gear.
The rise of mobile journalism means that journalists can now report on stories as they happen, without needing to be tethered to a bulky television camera.
Of course, mobile journalism is not without its challenges.
Perhaps the biggest one is ensuring that the video footage or photos captured on this lightweight equipment are of high enough quality to be used by a news organization.
Despite these challenges, this method of news-gathering has surged in popularity thanks to its ability to give people a first-hand account of events as they unfold — making for more engaging and powerful storytelling.
What Do You Need To Be A Mobile Journalist?
All you truly “need” to be a mobile journalist is a smartphone.
With a smartphone, you will be able to capture photos, video and audio; edit your content; and share the finished product with your audience.
That said, smartphones have a number of limitations:
- Smartphones have poor lowlight video and photo capabilities.
- Smartphones are bad at zooming in.
- Smartphones typically capture poor audio.
- Smartphones are prone to shaky video.
This is where other mobile journalism gear and accessories come in handy to help solve some of these limitations.
For example, adding a DSLR-style camera to your gear bag will give you the ability to capture higher-quality photographs.
Or, purchasing an external microphone might help improve the audio on your iPhone.
Keep reading for a deeper dive into mobile journalism equipment must-haves, as well as some more optional accessories.
Mobile Journalism Equipment Essentials
Smartphones & Tablets
Just about everyone has a smartphone these days, which makes them a great tool for journalists.
Smartphones are relatively inexpensive, easy to carry around, and come packed with a number of features that can be useful for journalists, such as relatively high-quality cameras, video capabilities, and mobile data connectivity.
In addition, there are a number of apps available that can further enhance the journalist’s toolkit, such as those for live-streaming videos, recording interviews, and more.
While not as portable as smartphones, tablets also offer a number of advantages for journalists, such as larger screens (which can be helpful for editing photos and videos), built-in keyboards (which can make it easier to type articles on the go), and access to a wider range of apps.
If you’re looking for a versatile piece of mobile journalism equipment that will give you more bang for your buck, smartphones and tablets are both great options.
In the right conditions, modern smartphones are capable of capturing very high-quality videos and photos.
However, relying on perfect conditions is simply impractical.
This is where DSLR-style cameras become very important.
These cameras often have higher megapixel counts than smartphones, better lowlight capabilities, more settings and customizations, and the ability to swap out lenses and zoom in.
These capabilities will allow you to compensate for any situation you find yourself inas a mobile journalist — from shooting at night to capturing images from far away.
The biggest downside to using a DSLR-style camera is the transfer of files. When you shoot with a smartphone, the files can easily be edited and shared right from the device.
That said, many modern cameras offer Bluetooth file sharing which easily solves this problem.
Alternatively, lots of laptops these days include built-in memory card readers.
While the built-in microphones on most phones and cameras are good for general use, they often fall short when it comes to capturing high-quality audio.
This is where external microphones come in.
These devices can be attached to the outside of a phone, and they provide a number of benefits for mobile journalists.
First, they allow for clearer recordings by avoiding the muffled sound that can occur when using the phone’s internal microphone.
Second, they help to reduce background noise, making it easier to focus on the subject at hand.
And finally, they provide greater flexibility in terms of positioning, making it possible to get closer to the action or capture sound from multiple directions.
Whether you’re shooting video for a news report or simply wanting to capture better audio for your personal vlogs, an external microphone is a valuable tool for any mobile journalist.
Read more: How to Connect a Microphone to a Camera
Video Stabilizers and Gimbals
One of the challenges of mobile journalism is keeping your smartphone or camera steady.
Even the slightest movement can result in a blurry or shaky video.
That’s where video stabilizers and gimbals can be handy.
These devices are designed to reduce camera shake, giving mobile journalists the ability to capture smooth, professional-looking videos.
There are a variety of video stabilizers on the market, ranging from simple handheld gimbals to sophisticated multi-axis gimbals.
For smartphone users looking for a simple and affordable option, something like the Ulanzi U-Rig Pro Smartphone Video Rig will help to stabilize footage while providing more surface area to attach accessories such as microphones and lights. Simple options like the Zeadio Handheld Stabilizer also exist for cameras.
For those interested in something a little more heavy-duty, high-end gimbal stabilizers are also available.
These devices use complex electronics and motors to stabilize your video footage.
For example, the Zhiyun Weebill S is an excellent option for mobile journalists looking for a compact-yet-powerful gimbal option.
Check out some of our articles on video stabilization for more information:
In the past, bulky microphones and professional-grade recording equipment were essential for capturing high-quality audio.
However, advances in technology have made it possible for journalists to get great sound recordings using nothing more than a smartphone and a lapel microphone.
Lapel microphones are small and unobtrusive, making them ideal for mobile journalists who need to be able to capture high-quality audio on the go.
These tiny microphones are attached to the collar of your interview subject’s shirt in order to capture clean interview audio.
Because of this, lapel mics aren’t as simple to use in a fast-paced environment as other microphones.
That said, attaching a lapel mic to your subject when time allows is a fantastic method for recording clean audio.
These days, lapel mics are cheaper and easier to use than ever.
For example, the Leereel Wireless Lavalier Microphone is a great option for smartphone and tablet users.
Attachable lights are a great tool for mobile journalists interested in a better lighting setup.
The best attachable lighting option for most will be an LED light.
LED lights are small, lightweight, and easy to set up, making them ideal for journalists who need to be able to move quickly and set up their equipment with minimal fuss.
In addition, LED lights provide a bright, even light that is perfect for interviews and other close-up shots.
So if you’re looking for a versatile lighting solution for your mobile journalism setup, LED lights are definitely worth considering.
There are a lot of simple LED light options out there but this simple NEEWER LED Video Light is a solid choice.
Clip On Lenses
As a journalist, it’s important to be able to capture high-quality images and videos on the go.
Smartphone cameras have come a long way in recent years, but they still fall short in certain situations.
That’s where clip-on smartphone lenses come in.
These simple attachments can give your mobile camera a major boost, allowing you to capture better photos and videos in a variety of scenarios.
Whether you’re trying to capture a far-off object or get a closer look at small detail, clip-on lenses can help you get the shot you need.
And because they’re so easy to use, they’re perfect for capturing spontaneous moments as they happen.
Like regular lenses, there are many different smartphone lenses available in different focal lengths.
Choosing a kit with multiple lens options is a good way to go for those unsure of which lens to pick.
For example, the Selvim Phone Camera Lens Kit comes with four different lens options.
In recent years, selfie sticks have become increasingly popular, and many mobile journalists now use them to capture unique perspectives and get closer to the action.
Selfie sticks allow you to extend your phone or camera beyond the reach of your arm, giving you a wider field of view and allowing you to capture photos and videos that would otherwise be impossible.
They also help to stabilize your camera, making it easier to get clear, steady shots.
In addition, selfie sticks can be used to interview subjects at a distance, making it possible to maintain social distancing while still getting up close and personal.
The Blukar Selfie Stick is one of many capable selfie sticks that offers an extendable feature.
Action cameras like the GoPro are designed for one thing: capturing action-packed video.
These cameras are small and lightweight, making them easy to carry around, and they’re rugged enough to withstand being dropped or getting wet.
Despite their durability, most action cameras have limited features and won’t be versatile enough for general shooting.
However, in the rare instance that you are looking to get a little creative with your filmmaking, action cameras can help to achieve some out-of-the-box- results.
For example, action cameras are perfect for capturing footage from unique perspectives or in difficult-to-reach places.
When it comes to action cameras, it’s hard to beat GoPro.
The GoPro HERO11 Black is one of the brand’s newer offerings.
Picking the right mobile journalism equipment depends on your specific needs as a journalist.
If you’re looking for something versatile that can do it all, go with a smartphone or tablet.
If you need something specifically for capturing high-quality video and photo footage, an action camera is ideal.
No matter what you choose, remember that mobile journalism equipment should make your job easier — not harder.
With the right tools in hand, you’ll be ready to report from anywhere in the world.