24 September 2008

BBC Blogger Tests Reporter’s Toolkit

After road-testing some of the essential components from the digital reporter’s toolkit, Rory Cellan-Jones reaches some interesting conclusions.

The BBC’s technology correspondent carried out his experiment at a recent Apple event in London where he compared the coverage offered by a mobile phone / laptop with online access through Twitter, a video phone using Qik and a Flip video camera.

Writing on his dot.life blog, Cellan-Jones also reveals that he took along “an invaluable gadget called Dan Simmons, my multimedia colleague from Click, who brought along his much more professional video camera”.

And here are some excerpts from his findings:

“Now I’m not sure if it was ‘broadcasting’ - after all Twitter is a pretty narrow community - but it was an enjoyable way of covering the event, with plenty of interaction coming back to me from other Twitterers.”

He also notes that this real-time interactivity helps to create “a temporary micro-community”.

“The quality is pretty poor - it’s being streamed over a 3g network which seemed to struggle to get into the hall - but immediacy is the thing here.

“Apple is very controlling and bans live video relays of these events, so there is a kind of ‘pirate’ appeal to getting the pictures out ahead of time.”

“Has the advantage over a mobile phone of shooting an hour of material without needing a charge … and the disadvantage of a lack of instant connectivity.

“Still, I loaded it straight onto my laptop, cut it together with a simple editing programme and produced this behind-the-scenes video.”


“It was Dan Simmons with his small, but semi-professional, video camera who made the most important contribution - after all his pictures were of far greater quality than mine, and reached a far bigger audience.”

In Conclusion:

Cellan-Jones reckons a laptop with internet access is certainly an essential part of a digital journalist’s toolkit while video streaming from a mobile phone can be useful.

However, he maintains that despite all this user-friendly technology on offer he would always rather take along a professional with a good video camera.

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