iPhone Journalism

Dublin Dockers by Philip Bromwell, RTE News

The network news story you are looking at above was shot entirely on an iPhone (in HD) by Philip Bromwell, a journalist for RTE News/Ireland.

This was not a webcast, this was for national broadcast by a major network. And he did it himself.

Bromwell was one of more than 1200 journalists who went through an intensive "VJ" bootcamp with us at the BBC several years ago (good training is everything). Bromwell's work puts to rest the idea that shooting a TV news story with an iPhone is "amateur" or "fine in an emergency." Looking at Bromwell's piece, you can't tell the difference between this and something shot by a professional crew.

So the issue of broadcast quality is laid to rest.

But Bromwell's piece raises an even more interesting question:

There are now more than 1.4 billion smart phones and iPhones in use around the world.

What that means, for all practical purposes, is that there are now more than 1.4 billion broadcast camera "crews" around the world -- ready to go.

Media companies are fixated on mobile. They tend to look at the 1.4 billion smart phones as a kind of mini TV set or hand held computer that people carry around with them, and that they can use it the way they use a TV or access a website at home.

That might be true, but it is missing the larger point. The iPhone is not just a platform to watch Downton Abbey, but rather a node for content creation. It is a tool with which anyone, anywhere, any time can shoot a video news story, edit it (on the phone) and transmit it to a global audience -- for free.

This is revolutionary.

Since the advent of television news, the industry has worked in an extremely limited way. A news director might choose to send a reporter and crew to cover a story. But with limited resources and a limited number of cameras and reporters, how much could they actually do?

And even if the crew were sent to Cairo (for example) at enormous cost -- how much could they possibly cover -- and in fact, how much could they even know about what was going on? (My guess is that they don't speak Arabic, just flew in and are staying at the Four Seasons).

But how many people in Cairo (or Kiev or Kabul or anywhere else) already have an HD TV studio in their pocket?

Why do they need CNN at all?

We have been training United Nations field operatives to tell their own stories using iPhones and simple edits. It works quite well. They live and work in places like Darfur or Mali or Syria. They are on the ground every day. They not only know the story, they live it. They speak the local languages. They know the players. They know the story.

How much more valuable to empower them with the tools to tell their story to the world than wait for the crew and reporter from CNN to show up.

(And how much less expensive).

Look at the video above.

The tools to completely re-invent television news are already in place.

You think #140 has an impact. Wait until you see the video.