As I reported on the site, Know Your Cell, our friend -- the cell phone -- enables every person on the planet to snap a newsworthy event; it's in all our hands! The cell phone has dramatically changed the face of journalism; that face is one of the citizen who wields his mobile device and captures news as it happens-instantly trumpeting the story to the world via social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Yes the power is now in the hands of the people (those people have cell phones). In June-following the aftermath of the revolution-Egyptians engaged in an event called, "Tweet Nadwa." The tweet symposium followed not only Egypt's future-but also connected the global network of bloggers, writers, activists, and citizen journalists via Twitter.
On hand were journalists/activists Salma el Daly, Mostafa Shishtawi, Ahmed Al-ish and Gigi Ibrahim, who provided valuable tips for citizen journalists--who might want to capture the next major news event on their cell phones. The speakers provided valuable tips on improving citizen journalism tactics-which KYC would like to pass on to you for your plight in covering earth-shaking news incidents with the push of a mobile button.
KEEP VIDEOS SHORT
Brevity is the soul of wit; it's also the key to having citizen journalism success. 3-4 minutes is an ideal length for videos; after that the viewer might become bored at excessive footage. Remember: not all cell phone video footage is a slam-dunk; edit it down to the pure golden nuggets.
REMEMBER YOUR BATTERY LIFE
When covering long events, be aware that your cell phone battery might die at some point. This goes for both video and Twittering. If you're serious about your citizen journalism, look into such cell phones as Blackberry-which has a battery that can be quickly charged.
KEEP ON THE TWITTER
When attending a widely covered event, keep up your Twitter feed-even if other people are tweeting the same thing. Multiple source coverage not only equals more creditability-but your tweets will expand the visibility of the event. Look for your own unique 140-character twist on the affair and spout out with your exclusive take.
DON'T USE EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT
If violence is likely to erupt, keep in mind your cell phone could be a casualty. If you're covering such groundbreaking events such as the Egyptian revolution or the Iran protests, keep in mind that your equipment could easily be damaged or confiscated.
DON'T FOLLOW A POLITICAL AGENDA
Citizen journalism enables ordinary people to shed light on the problems with a system; especially when covering political events. Putting the coverage first and the political agenda second will help your story gain support from the peeps on the street. If the topic you're covering is taboo in your country, then join forces with other citizen journalists to increase exposure to the issue and lower the chances of personal harassment.
Harmon Leon is editor of Know Your Cell