Four must-have apps for today’s mobile journalist

Today’s journalists on the forefront of the industry and now learning mobile journalism: using mobile devices like iPhones and iPads to create journalistic work at an equal caliber of traditional journalism. As a student in the mobile section of a class (J2150: Multimedia Journalism) at the University of Missouri, the number one journalism school in the nation, I want to share with you the apps we have used in our class to become the mobile journalists of tomorrow. After each app, I've included some work I have done using each app.

1. CAMERA +

Camera + is the normal iPad camera on steroids. It allows users to adjust exposure and focus from a simple pinch of the fingers. A handy live horizon line that I have never seen on other apps ensures that the photo being taken is level. Exposure is easily adjusted with the swipe of a finger. Another reason it is better than the typical built-in camera is because it allows users to white balance and auto-adjust to different levels of lighting and weather. Photos are saved automatically to the camera roll, allowing for easy organization. Another helpful tool is the burst function: holding down the shutter to take quick, consecutive photos. This is important for capturing motion in a fast-paced scene.

An unedited photo I took in Camera +

An unedited photo I took in Camera +

2. SNAPSEED

SnapSeed is a photo editing app that allows users to perform Photoshop-esque edits from a mobile device. The clean and organized interface helps users keep track of each and every edit. There are nine different tools and twelve different filters to give users the variety needed in editing journalistic photos. Aside from typical editing functions like exposure and cropping, SnapSeed also has healing, transforming and a blur to imitate the quality of a traditional DSLR camera.

A photo I edited in SnapSeed to blur everything except for the sticker.

A photo I edited in SnapSeed to blur everything except for the sticker.

3. FERRITE

Ferrite is the recording app of dreams. The app has different upgrade packages for heavy users, but the free version should suffice for a college student completing assignments. It has in-house editing tracks with a pop-up menu allowing users to cut, copy, paste, delete, split and more from a simple tap. It performs nearly the same functions as Garageband and has a sound quality comparable to other desktop programs. An export function allows users to export straight into another editing app, like Pinnacle Studio, to pair the audio with photos or video. See the next point for an example.

4. PINNACLE STUDIO


Pinnacle Studio is the ideal app for creating audio slideshows. It is incredibly easy to drop photos in from the camera roll or audio from an app like Ferrite into the timeline and edit from there. The app offers a variety of transitions and titles for any kind of audio slideshow. Although relatively simple, it can create the same time of audio slideshow a desktop app could.

Here is an audio slideshow I produced. The audio was recorded and edited in Ferrite, the photos were taken in Camera + and the project was put together in Pinnacle Studio.


Five tips for journalistic interviews

1. DO PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

Study up on your interview subject before even formulating questions. In the interview, you will seem more knowledgeable and professional while also avoiding asking questions that could be answered with a simple Google search or a quick glance at a LinkedIn page.

2. MAKE THEM COMFORTABLE

Mimicking their movements can psychologically make someone more comfortable with you. If they lean forward, you lean forward too. Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, says it’s all about your energy. If you exude nervousness, so will they. Try your best to be warm and open and listen attentively. Watch this video for other tips from Brandon:

 

3. TRIPLE CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT

Make sure everything is working before proceeding with your interview asking them to state and spell their name. There is almost nothing worse in journalistic interviews than conducting the entire interview, realizing some of your equipment wasn’t working and needing to ask the interviewee to sit down with you again.

4. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

This should come after careful research, as mentioned in Step 1. After your preliminary questions, questions should not be able to be answered with “yes” or “no”. Ask questions that evoke emotion. Ask questions that will help you tell the story. Ask questions that get good quotes and challenge your interviewee to think.

5. WRAP UP AND FOLLOW UP

Although you show treat your interviewee with respect and consideration throughout, the end is your final impression and chance to be in their good graces. You never know when you’ll need to reach out to a source again. Thank them for their time and ask if they have anything to add that you didn’t address and if they could point you in the direction of your next steps.

Five things journalism taught me about love

As the month of February comes to a close, love has been on my mind. After getting into my first real relationship about five months ago, I found myself, the nerd I am, applying journalistic concepts to my and Cory’s relationship. I realized that many of the things I learned in my high school yearbook class and beyond are completely relevant to getting and keeping a significant other.

1. SHOW DON'T TELL

Talk is cheap and words can be powerful. In a microlead, don’t say “The man cared for his dog” but rather describe how he never left her side, rushed her to a hospital when she was hurt, etc. and let readers come to a conclusion themselves. In relationships, prove yourself and live up to your words. If you care about someone, let you actions speak for yourself and make decisions that show, in large or small ways, that you care about him or her. Bring them thoughtful gifts for no reason, plan surprise dates, make breakfast in bed and other little things that can mean a whole lot.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND UNDERSTANDABLE

Be straightforward with your feelings in a relationship and don’t make your significant other guess how you’re feeling or why. You are two different people with two immensely different trains of thoughts and it is foolish, for even the most seasoned couple, to assume your significant other knows you to a T. Only through direct and honest communication are the strongest relationships built. In journalism, there’s no need for flowery language and complex diction. We are trying to get a point across to a large audience and need ensure that it makes sense to everyone.

3. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

You may have a preconceived idea of what you want in a significant other based on family values, media manipulation or a multitude of other reasons. Don’t let them hold you back from getting to know someone for who they are. My boyfriend Cory is laidback, Type B and logical, as opposed to my on-the-go, Type A, emotional self. If I had closed myself off to a strict checklist of traits, I would have never even give him a shot. Likewise, people who get out of their comfort zone in journalism often produce the best work. Ask the hard questions. Get closer to your subject for a better picture. Don’t let any feelings of awkwardness hinder you from getting the best work and telling the best story possible.

4. KNOW YOUR INTERVIEWEE

Study up on your interview subject before even formulating questions. In the interview, you will seem more knowledgeable and professional while also avoiding asking questions that could be answered with a simple Google search or a quick glance at a LinkedIn page. In relationships, it is essential to know who your point of interest is before committing to a relationship. What are her fears? Dreams? What makes her tick? What are the best and worst things about her? Knowing your potential significant other well paves the path for a successful relationship and reduces the chance of hitting roadblocks caused by habits or traits unknown when starting a relationship.

5. RECOGNIZE THAT THE STORY IS ALWAYS CHANGING AND EVOLVING

Don’t be a parachute journalist that simply reports on an event without looking at the broader story. Place your story into context by reporting on events that led up to it and the implications it has for the future. Similarly, know that people can change, circumstances can change and feelings can change. For that reason, love can change. Love is not a promise for forever. I doesn't mean you loved him yesterday or you’ll love him tomorrow. Reaffirm love constantly because it comes slowly but can leave quickly.