Module JG240

Mobile Journalism

Module author

Ismail Hakki Polat

Kadir Has University
Department of New Media

Learning objectives

After studying this module, you will be able to:

  • Define mobile journalism and explain this journalistic genre;
  • Explain how mobile journalism works;
  • Give an overview of the technological development that made mobile journalism possible;
  • Reflect this genre critically.
Study point 1
Reading extract Mobile Journalism


Why Open School of Journalism believes that Mobile Journalism is important zu know

We make use of new media and mobile journalism every day perhaps without being able to offer a hard-and-fast definition of either. You'd be forgiven for being unable to define some of these terms because many journalists still argue that mobile journalism is nothing fundamentally new. 

Mobile journalism: Reinventing the wheel 

Mobile journalism is conventionally defined as journalists and reporters making use of portable, highly connected devices to concoct, edit and disseminate news stories. 

To the degree that iPhones and other mobile devices have enabled journalists to report in novel ways or update blogs from remote locations, mobile journalism is a new phenomenon. 

From the perspective of collecting information and making updates to your story using whatever tools are currently at your disposal, though, mobile journalism is simply an extension of business as usual. 

Journalists during the Iraq War and Gulf War used computers and tablets to record and update news stories. The difference between then and now is that in the past journalists had fewer technological tools and less network connectivity to bring their stories to life and into the public eye through mobile devices.

Advantages of mobile journalism 

The line tracing the start of traditional media and the beginning of new media is somewhat hazy. Journalists have used content management systems to update blogs and bring fresh stories to American citizens from journalists stationed in war-torn African countries or middle-eastern autocracies. Journalists have used cameras and computers for generations, but new media and mobile journalism have streamlined the process and made news stories instantly available. 

Just to be clear, new media is defined as real-time access to stories from a wide range of mobile devices. It's an interesting but largely academic exercise to consider exactly when new media and mobile journalism became truly real-time, but most journalists agree that the internet played a large role in making news more widely available on a minute-to-minute basis. 

Certain facets of mobile journalism have responded more quickly to technology and evolving public tastes than other facets. The process of a journalist going out into the field and collecting a story using an iPhone or mobile device is less novel than a journalist using a mobile device to upload an update to a content management system in real-time and selectively upload the content to certain blogs.

Traditional media, new media and mobile journalism 

The real benefit that mobile journalism and new media hold over traditional journalism is the ability to upload in real-time and make updates on stories reported in the past. Journalists now have a broader reach and swifter upload time for stories that would have taken weeks to come to fruition only fifteen years ago. 

New media and mobile journalism revolutionized the instantaneous coverage of the Arab Spring revolutions that sought to democratize remote places like Egypt and Yemen. Mobile journalism allowed the public virtually instant access to a toppling democracy in Egypt and populist uprisings across the Middle East. 

For all of mobile journalism's benefits, though, there are some notable drawbacks. The fact that mobile technology and improvements in network connectivity have enabled journalists to upload stories more quickly has proved a double-edged sword. At times there's less vetting of news stories for political correctness, relevance or the chance that the public will misinterpret the information they're receiving on digital devices. 

Overall, mobile journalism is a positive outcropping of new media in that it gives real-time access to digital news subscribers and results in greater transparency and safeguards against corruption and abuses of power. 

These advantages are largely mobile journalism's downfalls as well, though. There's less editorial censoring of stories that need to get out to the public in real-time; the race to be the first news outlet to publish or post pictures of a human rights' abuse, for instance, discourages scrupulous editing in some instances. Mobile journalism isn't going anywhere and should therefore be embraced and used responsibly.